Why is Cancer So Common in Construction Workers?
Some cancers are caused by significant exposure to carcinogens in the workplace (a carcinogen is a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue), often over a prolonged period. The carcinogens that construction workers are exposed to are many and varied. They can be solid substances, liquids, mixtures, vapours, gases, dusts or even radiation. Without adequate control of these substances, you can be affected by breathing them in, absorbing them through your skin or accidental swallowing. There is usually a considerable period of time between exposure to these substances and any symptoms developing – even up to 50 years!
Construction workers are at a significantly higher risk of developing and dying from skin cancer,
due to working outdoors, often without correct skincare.
Smoking is a huge contributor to these statistics too. Construction workers are twice as likely to smoke compared to the wider population and 2 out of 3 long-term smokers will die as a direct result of the habit.
Alcohol plays a major part too. 24% of construction workers drink above government guidelines compared to 15.5% of the general population. Alcohol is linked to 7 types of cancer.
As well as the above, over 50% of workers in construction are from a lower socio-economic backgrounds. Rates of cancer are 24% higher in men and 13% in women for these groups. In England alone, this difference leads to around 15,000 additional cases of cancer each year.
With all of this added up we can start to build a picture as to why cancer is so prevalent in our industry.