In this article, we report on the No Time to Lose (NTTL) campaign, which seeks to reduce and control the deaths caused by occupational cancer. Its main target is asbestos-related cancer. In an announcement, the British Medical Association (BMA) has revealed that ‘IOSH is launching free practical materials to help businesses tackle asbestos-related cancer as part of its No Time to Lose (NTTL) campaign’. The aim is to educate and raise awareness of the dangers posed by exposure of asbestos. However, NTTL’s campaigns also concern other occupational cancers, such as those caused by silica and ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which are discussed below.
Silica Dust Case Studies
The first NTTL affiliated company taking action is Network Rail. Its initiatives are to control silica dust exposure. Network Rail have identified employees most at risk and the locations where work with silica dust presents the greatest risk:
- Work in quarries;
- Work on the track;
- Those who handle and transport ballast; and
- Engineering work sites.
Network Rail have raised awareness by educating its employees and industry colleagues about the risks silica dust exposure can cause. They have stated that ‘each blast at a quarry produces between 15,000 to 40,000 tonnes of material.’[i]
Steps taken to reduce those exposed to dust on the track includes screening and washing the ballast before it is moved to a local distribution centre. At the centre, Network Rail has implemented ways to reduce the dust created by unloading, stockpiling and re-loading. In order to do so, the ballast is dampened. Elsewhere, Network Rail instructs workers to refrain from visiting the site if it is not necessary to do so, while those who are required must wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
Neil Roberts, Programme Manager at Network Rail stated:
‘By proactively improving the general awareness of exposure to silica dust, we are enabling a sustainable approach to managing the health and wellbeing of our employees.’[ii]
The second company taking action is Wates Group, a construction company. In 2014, it implemented a dust campaign, ‘Bin the Broom’, to minimise the dust produced on sites.
Kelly Osborne, Occupational Health Manager and IOSH Graduate Member has said:
‘... construction dust is not only a nuisance but a hidden killer, causing irreversible respiratory damage to a staggering number of those who are exposed to it over long periods of time. The nature of our work means the workforce will come into contact with many types of dust … one of the most toxic dusts – silica.’[iii]
‘Bin the Broom’ highlighted the dangers of inhaling dust and has taken steps to tackle the issue of dust at source by improving the use of tools and suppression solutions. It also ensures that, if dust is managed on site, the following should be taken into account and carried out:
- Risk Assessments are specific and detailed;
- Supervision arrangements are undertaken;
- Equipment is inspected and maintained; and
- Users are trained in the use of any equipment.[iv]
UV Radiation Case Study
In this section of we report on a case study of workers at the Royal Mail and their exposure to Solar Radiation (UV). The Royal Mail has taken steps to raise employee awareness of the dangers of exposure to UV radiation.
An example of this is special clothing, which has been designed and approved by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) to reduce UV exposure. This includes
- Wide-brimmed hats;
- Long-sleeved tops; and
To prevent the risk of skin cancer the Royal Mail Group incentivises the wearing of (BAD) clothing above the provision of sunscreen.
Shaun Davis, Group Director of Safety, Health, Wellbeing and Sustainability, commented that ‘Sun safety training and awareness has to be the first line of defence.’[vi]
To further promote the awareness of cancer caused by occupational exposure to UV radiation, it has initiated a campaign called ‘Stay Safe in the Sun’, to arm employees with the knowledge of potential risks and methods of protection against exposure.
Shaun Davis added:
‘We’re really promoting the fact that covering up is the main focus. Wearing the right clothing to protect yourself from the sun’s rays gives the best direct protection, as long as workers are supplementing with sunscreen where they need to. We know that getting workforce engagement in our programme is absolutely crucial, and we’ve been working with our national and regional teams, and also in partnership with the Communication Workers Union, to get the message out there that taking a few simple steps can protect people who work outside for a living from getting the most common type of cancer in the world’[vii]
[i] ‘Taking Action To Control Silica Dust Exposure’ (2018 IOSH, No Time To Lose) https://www.notimetolose.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Network_Rail_NTTL_case_study_MKT2745_110316.pdf accessed 9 April 2018
[iii] ‘Implementing a dust awareness campaign’(2018 IOSH, No Time To Lose) https://www.notimetolose.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Wates_Case_study_MKT2741.pdf accessed 9 April 2018
[v] ‘DELIVERING A NEW SUN SAFETY STRATEGY’(2018 IOSH, No Time To Lose) https://www.notimetolose.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/POL2743-RMG-Good-Practice.pdf accessed 9 April 2018