There were more than a million deaths from cancer in the European Union in 2006. A significant percentage of these deaths were caused by workers being exposed to carcinogens at the workplace. These include asbestos, of course, but also an endless number of toxic petrochemical substances or dust that can prove deadly after years of exposure, for example, hard wood dust.
These tens of thousands of deaths every year are not inevitable. They could be avoided, sometimes quite easily, if employers agreed to replace carcinogens with non-toxic or less toxic substances or if they enforced elementary prevention measures.
The aim of this publication is to present the main challenges of combating occupational cancers. It attempts to draw the conclusions of the major health tragedies of the past to contribute to the development of a strategy, notably for trade unions, to combat occupational cancers.