BOHS calls for RIDDOR disease list to be widened 22 July 2013

The Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection (BOHS) is warning that long-latency diseases, such as silicosis, need to be added to the list of RIDDOR diseases, if they are to be combated.

While BOHS says it is supportive of rationalising the list of diseases from 47 to eight, it would like to see a ninth category of 'Pneumoconiosis, including silicosis, included.

BOHS president David O'Malley also says that the organisation is pleased to see that HSE considered the intelligence gathering aspects for acute and short latency diseases, including cancer – as demonstrated in the recently announced RIDDOR changes – but remains concerned about the lack of data being collected on long-latency diseases, such as silicosis.

"If employers and duty holders did not have to report incidents of occupational disease, there would have been no data available and therefore no real understanding of the number of people exposed to dangerous working environments," argues O'Malley.

"Existing data reveals that 500,000 'new' work-related illnesses occur each year, which ultimately costs the economy £8.2bn annually," he continues.

"Even with its limitations, without RIDDOR disease data, fighting for healthier working environments, which all workers deserve, is harder."

Silicosis is an irreversible lung disease that can take years to develop and is caused by fine particles of respirable crystalline silica (RCS), which causes damage and inflammation in the lungs.

Occupations with exposure to RCS include quarrying, slate works, foundries, potteries, stonemasonry, construction – when cutting or breaking stone, concrete or brick – and manufacturing industries that use silica flour.

"Silicosis is an important occupational disease and area of concern," insists O'Malley.

"There is still debate about whether the limit used and the controls recommended are acceptable. Including this in the list sends out the message that this is important and that as a nation, we need to take action."

Brian Tinham

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