Dr Rushton, emeritus reader of occupational epidemiology at Imperial College London’s Faculty of Medicine, will hold the post for the next five years.
The IIAC, an independent research body, advises the secretary of state for work and pensions and the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland on the administration of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) which is paid to people who have been disabled due to a work accident, or have contracted a prescribed disease caused by their job.
The council’s responsibilities include advising ministers on additions to the list of diseases that qualify workers for IIDB and scrutinising proposed regulations to change the benefit scheme. The council’s 17 members include Hugh Robertson, senior health and safety policy officer at the Trades Union Congress and Dr Sayeed Khan, chief medical officer at the EEF manufacturers’ organisation.
The IIAC’s current work programme includes assessing the risk of cancer from exposure to diesel exhaust emissions and considering osteoarthritis of the knee and work in the construction industry.
Dr. Rushton, who takes over the chair from Professor Keith Palmer, has extensive research experience in the field of occupational cancer, including leading a major study for the Health and Safety Executive published in 2011 which estimated the burden of work-related cancer in the UK by industry.
Her appointment to the IIAC was made by Sarah Newton, minister of state for disabled people, health and work.