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Brexit effect worker health

Brexit warning against loss of momentum on worker health

The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) has warned against “any slackening of pace” in efforts to reduce the burden of work-related ill health in the UK and internationally, following Britain’s historic referendum vote to leave the EU.

In a statement, the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection highlighted the death toll associated with occupational health hazards, pointing out the following:

• In Britain, every year about 13,000 people die from diseases which were caused by the work that they do, or used to do.

• The vast majority of these deaths are due to cases of work-related lung disease or cancer, caused by past exposure to chemicals and dusts at work.

• Globally, work-related diseases claim an estimated 2 million lives per year.

Steve Perkins, CEO of BOHS, said

In recent years, we as a society and a nation have made significant strides in raising awareness about the value of worker health protection, through initiatives such as our Breathe Freely campaign, which aims to prevent occupational lung disease … Despite any political uncertainty, BOHS will continue to show leadership in the sphere of occupational hygiene to guard against any loss of these hard-won gains.”

The society also predicted that key health and safety rights and responsibilities would remain unchanged in a post-Brexit Britain.

Boyle, President of BOHS, said

The Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 is a robust piece of legislation which has stood the test of time, and has been emulated around the world … Employers and workers should be aware that the duty of every employer to reduce, so far as reasonably practicable, the risks to which employees and others are exposed, remains and will not change.

She added, “As a society with international links, we will continue to work closely with our European colleagues and their national occupational hygiene associations to improve control of workplace health hazards, irrespective of any prevailing political climate.”

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