Controlling occupational cancers in Australia

Lin Fritschi, Renae C Fernandez, Deborah A Vallance, Terry J Slevin, Alison Reid, Timothy R Driscoll and Deborah C Glass
Med J Aust 2012; 196 (3): . || doi: 10.5694/mja11.10485
Published online: 20 February 2012

We have no strategy for measuring rates, mitigating risk and meeting individuals’ needs

Work-related cancer attracts considerable public and media attention, but has received limited attention from researchers and policymakers in Australia, particularly in comparison to other cancers, such as those related to tobacco use and sun exposure. During the 1980s, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) issued model regulations for the control of carcinogenic substances, and the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC) was formed to coordinate efforts to improve OHS. Policies and strategies on occupational cancer were developed by the NOHSC, and the Australian Mesothelioma Registry was funded. In 2005, the NOHSC was replaced by the Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC).1 In turn, in 2008 the ASCC was replaced by Safe Work Australia, which has the primary responsibility of “improving work health and safety and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia”.2 Despite these initiatives, little progress has been made on Australia’s regulatory approach to occupational carcinogen exposure.

  • Lin Fritschi1
  • Renae C Fernandez1
  • Deborah A Vallance2
  • Terry J Slevin3
  • Alison Reid1
  • Timothy R Driscoll4
  • Deborah C Glass5

  • 1 Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA.
  • 2 Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Cancer Council Western Australia, Perth, WA.
  • 4 Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.
  • 5 Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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