Phase Two refute the National Semiconductor clean bill of health claim by HSE. [Phase Two News release, 24 August 2010]
The UK’s official workplace health and safety watchdog is little more than an industry lapdog when it comes to the real occupational cancer risks presented by the microelectronics industry, a campaign group is warning.
Phase Two, which represents workers who believe their health was damaged by exposures at National Semiconductor’s plant in Greenock, Scotland, was speaking out on the publication of a worrying study into cancer rates at the factory.
The study found excesses of several cancers, but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) summary and news release instead claimed there is “no increased cancer risk.” HSE also misrepresented the findings of studies at IBM and other plants to reinforce this “bogus” no risk message, says the campaign.
“HSE plays down the evidence of its own study, which did find real cancer excesses, something it studiously omits from its news release and its study summary,” says Phase Two Spokesperson Jim McCourt.
“It then plays down the findings of other studies to reach a faux consensus and bogus ‘no cancer risk’ conclusion.”
Phase Two is concerned that the NSUK Cancer Study results as reported today by HSE do not represent the study findings. At cursory glance the study has revealed there are still worrying excesses of cancers - among them
• female lung cancers (15 compared to 9.6 expected)
• female breast cancer (46 where 37.6 were expected)
• colorectal cancers in men (11 compared to 5.9 expected)
• male brain cancer (4 compared to 0 expected)
“Any reasonable observer would see this as cause for concern,” says Jim McCourt.
“We know from the HSE report this year that the working environment in the sector is conducive to an increased cancer risk, as there is little "corporate oversight" on health issues and widespread law breaking.
“HSE should stop covering up for a deadly industry and should instead demand and enforce improvements. This means reducing numbers of and exposures to carcinogens by a programme of toxics use reduction, vigorous policing of health and safety standards and rigorous enforcement of the law where breaches are observed.
Notes to editors
1. The research report and supporting documents are available from HSE online at http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/nsuk/index.htm
2. The IBM-funded study was of three semiconductor/hard drive plants (San Jose, East Fishkill and Burlington) and the brain cancer finding in their study was sufficient to prompt a further case-control study of brain cancer. This is currently in final negotiations or may have commenced. One of the sub-contractor scientists at Harvard felt strongly that the evidence of increased brain cancer in their mortality study warranted this additional work and IBM apparently agreed. This is hardly a "clean bill of health" for IBM semiconductor plant workers, even from the management's own point of view.
3. For comment Jim McCourt 07903 744819
Phase Two Injured Semiconductor Group, 16/18 Nicolson St., Greenock PA15 IJX. 01475 888039 Fax 01475 888415 email firstname.lastname@example.org
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