Study exposes failing workplace cancer compensation scheme

April 1, 2015 by David Christie, University of Stirling

Workers suffering occupational cancer and other potentially lethal work-related diseases can forget about any Government compensation, according to a new report by University of Stirling health researchers.

The Stirling report finds the current compensation scheme excludes seven of the top ten entries on the official UK occupational priorities ranking.

Diesel exhaust or painting-related lung or are not on the prescribed disease list, nor is welding-related lung cancer. Skin cancer caused by solar radiation exposure, a known problem in outdoor workers and pilots, is also missing.

Women almost entirely miss out, with caused by shiftwork - estimated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to affect around 2000 women each year - omitted from the list of 'prescribed' industrial diseases for which state compensation Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) is payable.

Also missing is asbestos-related , the most common gynaecological cancer in British women, despite having the top International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) cancer risk rating.

Professor Andrew Watterson, Head of the University's Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, said: "The UK Government's workplace compensation scheme requires urgent reform. It is an unholy mess with only a tiny proportion of those made sick by their work in with a sniff of any compensation.

"The Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) scheme excludes many conditions and those that are covered tend to be subject to claim-barring disability thresholds, minimum exposure times and job restrictions."

HSE data conservatively indicates almost 13,600 new cases of occupational cancer each year, yet in 2012, IIDB compensated just 2,600 cases. Remove asbestos-related cancers and just 90 payouts were made, a 1% chance of compensation.

The report is strongly critical of the role played by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC), which recommends which conditions should be added to the prescribed disease list.

Report co-author, Professor Rory O'Neill said: "The IIAC approach hovers between incompetent and wrong. It imposes an arbitrary 'relative risk' prescription test, requiring the condition to be twice as common in the affected group than in the general population. Even uncontentious causes of occupational cancer won't surmount this.

"The government prescribed disease scheme might just be capable of spotting a catastrophe but does nothing to recognise, compensate or avert tens of thousands of personal, preventable and frequently fatal human tragedies."

The full report is published in Hazards, an online magazine providing guidance and advice for workplace unions.

Health research at Stirling is ranked No.1 in Scotland and in the top 25% in its field across the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

Their findings follow a 2012 Stirling study of more than 2000 women in Canada which found a 42% increased risk of breast cancer for those exposed at work to high levels of certain chemicals.

Explore further: Breast cancer research shapes prevention policy with leading US health body

More information: The full report is published in Hazards:

Related Stories

Breast cancer research shapes prevention policy with leading US health body

January 19, 2015
A ground-breaking resolution developed by University of Stirling academics on the elevated breast cancer risk faced by women in certain occupations has been adopted by the influential American Public Health Association (APHA), ...

More than 1000 workers a year could die due to inadequate silica safeguards

July 23, 2014
Hundreds of thousands of workers are being put at risk and more than 1000 could die every year due to inadequate safeguards for a workplace dust known to cause cancer and other diseases, according to research by University ...

Asbestos and shift work boost work-related cancer deaths to over 8,000 a year

June 20, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Around 8,000 cancer deaths in Britain each year are linked to occupations - especially those where asbestos, diesel engine fumes or shift work is involved - a new study shows today. This equates to around ...

Lung cancer now top cancer killer for women in rich nations

February 4, 2015
For the first time, lung cancer has passed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in rich countries.

Monitoring work-related illnesses in Connecticut

September 2, 2014
As we mark the annual Labor Day holiday, Connecticut workers continue to suffer occupational illness rates higher than the national average. A recent study by UConn Health found that 7,129 unique cases of occupational illnesses ...

Exposure to organic solvents before first childbirth may increase hormone-related breast cancer risk

May 30, 2014
Among women with a family history of breast cancer, those who worked with organic solvents prior to their first full-term birth had an increased risk for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, according to data published ...

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.