Cancer cluster puts Victorian firefighters at risk of terminal illness

Cancer cluster puts Victorian firefighters at risk of terminal illness

A recent study undertaken by Monash University has found that firefighters who trained at the Fiskville Training Centre between 1971 and 1999 were significantly over-represented in cancer statistics.

Workers who were employed full-time at the Fiskville centre had higher than average rates of melanoma and testicular cancer, and employees working part-time hours had higher than average rates of brain cancer.

Currently, Victoria is one of the few states in Australia where legislation does not exist that automatically deems particular cancers to be connected to a firefighter's employment, and therefore compensable under the WorkCover system. However, a parliamentary inquiry has been commenced to examine whether and how such a system could be implemented in Victoria.

Unfortunately, a number of occupations carry higher risks of cancer because of exposure to certain chemicals over the course of their employment. Firefighters, for example, are vulnerable to the effects of flammable materials and chemicals and extinguishing substances such as foam.

It has long been recognised that exposure to asbestos can cause illnesses including mesothelioma and particular cancers. Recent cases have also indicated that welders have a higher than average risk because of their exposure to materials as a result of their ordinary duties, and outdoor workers require greater sun protection because of the risk of melanoma and other UV related illnesses.

If you or someone you know has suffered an illness which may be connected to your duties at work, it is important that you get accurate and compassionate advice about your potential entitlements. Contact our lawyers on (03) 9321 9988 for a free initial appointment.

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