A first step in prevention of occupational cancer is raising awareness about the risks caused by carcinogenic substances within the concerned stakeholder community.
From our awareness activities, we know that it sometimes lacks good data on, for instance, national or sectoral level. Awareness strongly relies on reliable data (Ch1.1). Changing behaviour is not easy, therefore, we also focus on the education of future employers and employees about risks, mandatory protection and solutions (Ch1.2).
Challenge 1.1 Better data
Reliable exposure data is essential, on for instance national or sectoral level. How can we provide better and perhaps more detailed data than the current estimates? Will it be possible to notice results from measures taken by companies? Are we able to discover declining trends in the use of cancer causing agents on the work floor and will preventive measures mean less exposure? Combining data from EU-OSHA’s exposure survey with data from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on the use of chemicals can provide answers. And making available the EC-studies supporting the impact assessments for CMD (Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive) substances as well. Ideally, a kind of a ‘carcinogens dashboard’ can be developed with trends over time in presence, use and exposure of cancer causing agents in different countries or industries and sectors. Alternatively, it could be explored adding carcinogens-items into the new OSH Barometer.
Challenge 1.2 Education is key
True to the motto ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ it is necessary to start with awareness raising activities in primary schools (for example, Slovenia successfully teaches children in kindergartens about the basics of chemical safety). Strategies to train young people during vocational educational training (VET) to be aware of the risks originating from carcinogenic agents and to behave accordingly need to be developed and implemented.