Cancer in the workplace
In Australia, exposure to carcinogenic (cancer-causing) agents in workplaces are estimated to cause over 5000 new cases of cancer each year.
- a wide range of different industrial chemicals, dusts, metals and combustion products (e.g. asbestos or diesel engine exhaust)
- forms of radiation (e.g. ultraviolet or ionising radiation)
- entire professions and industries (e.g. working as a painter, or in aluminium production)
- patterns of behaviour (e.g. shift working).
A much higher proportion of males than females are exposed to carcinogens at work, particularly those who hold a trade and are residing in regional areas. The risk of exposure cancer-causing agents is greatest for farmers, drivers, miners and transport workers.
The Occupational Exposures to Carcinogens in Australia lists 38 cancer causing agents of high priority and specific to Australian workplaces.
The most common workplace cancers in Australia are:
- Bronchus and lung
- Nose and nasal sinus