IOSH highlights occupational cancers at Gibraltar seminar

23 October 2015

How to prevent staff from developing work-related cancers was the focus of a major safety and health seminar staged in Gibraltar.

NTTL Gibraltar Rich and Fabian

Around 150 people attended an event hosted by the Gibraltar Associate Branch of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), to hear how businesses and employees can work together to beat occupational cancers.

Delegates heard that at least 666,000 people across the world die each year from work-related cancers, while one in five workers in the EU face an occupational cancer risk.

In many cases, however, the cause was both predictable and preventable, the Institution said. Small changes to how tasks are managed or carried out can make a big difference in the level to which people are exposed to cancer-causing substances at work, it added.

Richard Labrador, Chair of the IOSH Gibraltar Associate Branch, said: “Safety and health has come a long way in Gibraltar. On building sites, for example, you now see everyone wearing and using protective equipment as standard.

“Staff and businesses need to have the same attitude when it comes to work-related cancers, particularly skin cancer. We hope this is only the beginning and that employers are more aware of the issue, so they can take action to protect their workers.”

The seminar was hosted by IOSH Gibraltar Associate Branch, in association with Unite the Union and the Government of Gibraltar, at the John Mackintosh Hall on Tuesday 20 October.

IOSH’s Immediate Past President, Tim Briggs, spoke of the Institution’s efforts to raise awareness and provide advice on tackling occupational cancers through its No Time to Lose campaign.

The drive is specifically focused on five common risk factors associated with work-related cancers – diesel engine exhaust emissions, solar radiation, asbestos, silica dust and shift work.

Tim said: “Occupational cancers are often diagnosed decades after the victim has been exposed to a carcinogen at work. Cutting down the risk of exposure by changing work practices and having safety and health at the heart of operations really can help.

“It is not only obvious safety concerns and accidents that lead to injuries or deaths at work. Tackling causes of work-related ill health, such as carcinogens, is equally as important.”

Among the other speakers at the seminar was Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, who gave an opening address. He said huge strides have been made in changing attitudes around safety and health in Gibraltar, where there has been no death at work in the last six years.

There were 38 minor and five major accidents at work in Gibraltar between January and September 2015, according to Government figures.

Workers were involved in 57 minor and 12 major reported accidents at work in the whole of 2014. The majority of incidents occurred in the construction and shipbuilding industries.

GBC TV’s Viewpoint programme highlighted the issue of occupational cancers, and the No Time to Lose campaign, on Thursday 22 October. Further details about No Time to Lose, including free guidance, can be found at

Image: IOSH Gibraltar Associate Branch Chair, Richard Labrador (right), welcomes Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo to the seminar on Tuesday 20 October.