IOSH addresses Hong Kong CEOs about occupational cancer
Tuesday 2nd February 2016
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Best practice around engaging employees on safety and collaborating with other organisations to combat work-related ill health was shared during national rail operator MTR Corporation Ltd's annual Contractors' Safety Conference.
Around 450 senior leaders of companies within MTR's supply chain attended the conference, which took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with support from IOSH.
The Institution's president, Dr Karen McDonnell, addressed delegates about IOSH's campaign to raise awareness around the world of occupational cancers.
More than 100 leading organisations have formally supported IOSH's No Time to Lose campaign, with MTR among a growing number of large corporations across the world to have pledged to tackle the issue.
Through the initiative, IOSH is raising awareness and offering practical advice to help businesses protect their workers from occupational cancer, with a specific focus on five common work-related risk factors - diesel engine exhaust emissions, solar radiation, asbestos, silica dust and shift work.
Karen said: "We need to reduce the risks of people being exposed to carcinogens while at work. Work-based carcinogens are largely under the radar and we need to raise their profile if we want to see more action taken to control them.
"Responsible businesses are doing a lot of what is required, but they need to do more. IOSH is developing free resources to help with this. By working together we can take preventative action."
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 666,000 people die every year worldwide from a work-related cancer. Latest available figures from the Workplace Safety and Health Institute in Singapore also state that around 200,000 people in the Western Pacific Region died from occupational cancer in 2011.
MTR vowed to "embrace our obligation" to care for the health and wellbeing of its staff and contractors when it signed up to No Time to Lose. The corporation has previously provided training for 140 of its contractors' safety managers on how to manage and prevent harmful exposures in the workplace.
The Contractors' Safety Conference, which took place on 22 January, emphasised the important role that senior management plays in fostering a positive safety and health culture within their organisations. Senior figures from MTR shared their thoughts around engagement and behaviour-based safety, working in partnership to promote safety and health and how the design process can be used to eliminate and reduce health risks.
Stephen Pollock, project safety manager at MTR Corporation Ltd and a member of IOSH, addressed delegates on the topic of safety focus for 2016.
He said: "At the conference we reaffirmed our commitment to support the IOSH No Time to Lose campaign.
"MTR 's commitment is tangible. As well as providing extensive information and training to the contractor workforce we will be providing free health screening on site for up to 2,000 workers, in March 2016 and, throughout the year, inviting experts into our projects to promote the themed topics. In addition to this our full time nurses are available at our construction site to give advice and monitor health controls."
The conference also saw IOSH present MTR and international construction companies Laing O'Rourke and Leighton Asia with certificates to recognise their No Time to Lose campaign pledges.
In making its campaign pledge, Vincent Wong, M&E project manager at Leighton Asia, said: "We are constantly assessing the workplace for health and safety risks that can place our people in danger. Cancer is one of the risks, therefore we work together to find innovative ways to eliminate or control this risk.
"From design to construction and final project delivery, we hold ourselves to the highest health and safety standards."
The developer has pledged to work with its supply chain to reduce the risk of workers being exposed to carcinogens after making a pledge to IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign.More than 60 organisations across the world have vowed to take direct action to prevent occupational cancers through No Time to Lose, while dozens of other businesses have expressed support for the initiative.
Members of the Tyne and Wear branch of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) heard that exposure to dust in construction and other industries can lead to life-limiting diseases including cancer.IOSH is currently calling on businesses in the UK and overseas to sign up to its No Time to Lose campaign pledge to demonstrate their commitment to protecting staff from being exposed to silica dust and other carcinogens found in workplaces.
The summit was convened by the Health in Construction Leadership Group, whose members include IOSH, the British Occupational Hygiene Society and the Unite trade union as well as major construction clients and contractors such as Crossrail and Balfour Beatty. The meeting was intended to secure commitment from the chief executives to helping cut the toll of ill health in the sector, which resulted in more than 5,000 fatalities in 2015 and 1.2 million days lost.
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