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Industrial Diseases: Death

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 13th June 2011.

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Photo of Katy Clark Katy Clark Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many deaths from occupational diseases reported to have been caused or aggravated by workplace conditions his Department has recorded since 2010.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

Statistics relating to deaths from occupational diseases reported to have been caused or aggravated by workplace conditions since 2010 are not available.

No single source of information provides a count of the number of people who have died from occupational illnesses. For some causes of death, occupational cases are clinically indistinguishable from those due to other factors. For these causes numbers have to be estimated rather than counted.

Research commissioned by HSE estimated that 8,019 cancer deaths in Great Britain in 2005 were attributable to exposures to carcinogens at work, and it is likely that a similar number would have occurred in subsequent years. This estimate includes deaths from the asbestos- related cancer mesothelioma.

Using other international research, it is also estimated that there are currently approximately 4,000 deaths in Great Britain each year from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) due to past occupational exposures to dusts, gases, vapours and fumes. Again, it is likely that a similar number would have occurred in subsequent years.

The number of deaths in Great Britain for 2008 (the latest year for which data are available) due to the small group of diseases that can be regarded as occupational on the basis of the cause of death alone are provided in table 1.

Most of the occupational diseases that cause death usually take many years to develop following occupational exposures. Estimates of current deaths therefore largely reflect industrial conditions of the past.

Table 1: Deaths due to occupational lung diseases 2008
Number
Mesothelioma(1) (2)2,249
Asbestosis(3) (2)360
Pneumoconiosis other than asbestosis 139
Byssinosis 1
Farmer's lung and other occupational allergic alveolitis 7
Total 2,756
(1) Death certificates that mention mesothelioma. (2) Provisional. (3) Death certificates that mention asbestosis excluding those that also mention mesothelioma. Source: Health and Safety Executive

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