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HSE should think of lives lost, not just statistical analysis
[STUC news report, 25 August 2010]

The STUC following discussions with the Phase2 Action Group is to write to Judith Hackitt, HSE Chair seeking an explanation how the HSE justifies issuing a press release with the heading “Research indicates no increased cancer risk at Greenock factory” when the report quite clearly states that incidences for some types of cancer were higher than they had anticipated.

From our early study of the findings it is quite clear that there is an increased risk of some types of cancer, including lung cancers in women, yet the HSE in their release and media interviews were running a line that the results were not unexpected given the size of the workforce and the surrounding community.

The HSE claim findings that lung cancers in women were over 33% higher than expected and colorectal cancers were 53% higher more than they expected to find are not significant; maybe not for the HSE or the company but the human loss that these statistics represent will be felt by those who have contracted cancer and the families of those who have died for the rest of their days.

They do not even explain why they feel these figures are statistically significant and they really should be having cause for concern. After all these increased levels of cancer are being reported in an industrial industry where the HSE has already expressed concerns on cancer risks following enforcement activity.

It is strange that the HSE issues a report such as this based solely on statistical analysis but miss the hard truth increased numbers of workers were contracting certain cancers than they expected to find. However, to treat the members of PHASE2, including the families of those who have since died in the way that they have done by issuing the report to the company and leaving the PHASE2 to find out the results at the same time as the media is shameful.
The HSE should accept they need to act to reduce exposures to occupational cancer causing substances whether incidences are statistically significant or not.  Given the higher than expected incidences of types of cancers they now need to forget the statistical analysis and adopt the precautionary principle to prevent exposure to carcinogens across the semi conductor industry.







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