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Rubber Tyre Industry

Volume 981: debated on Monday 17 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment what progress has been made in the provision of local exhaust ventilation at rubber tyre curing processes since the news release of the Health and Safety Executive in 1976 on cancer in the rubber industry; and what interim practicable measures have been considered and taken to protect the process workers against inhalation of the dust and fumes which are believed to cause cancer.

The Factory Inspectorate in 1978 initiated a five-year programme of environmental inspection and investigation throughout the rubber industry, which, of course, includes the tyre manufacturers. The purpose of the programme is to obtain an improvement in the overall environmental working conditions and to obtain information about practical measures for dust and fume control. The programme is co-ordinated by the area director who has national responsibility within the Factory Inspectorate for health and safety matters in the rubber industry. Gradual progress is being made in the provision where practicable, of local exhaust ventilation systems. In the interim, all other factors—for example, materials handling, housekeeping, plant maintenance, general ventilation and welfare facilities—influencing the working environment are being examined for improvement.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many prosecutions have been brought by Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate under the Factories Acts where the likelihood of causation of cancer by dust and fumes in the rubber tyre industry has been specified.

It is not the practice of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Factories to specify in informations of complaints leading to prosecution the exact nature of any injury to health foreseen as a result of exposure to allegedly harmful dust OT fumes. For the period for which sufficiently detailed records are available, that is since 1975, it can, however, be inferred that carcinogenesis was at least part of the risk at issue in 31 prosecutions. Of these only one concerned a rubber factory, and this was not a tyre factory.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment on what dates knowledge of the likelihood of causation of cancer of (a) the bladder, (b) the lungs and (c) the stomach, by exposure to dust and fumes in the rubber tyre industry first came to the notice of Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate; and what were the respective dates when Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate published that knowledge in a form available to the public.

The Association of British Chemical Manufacturers formed a scientific committee to guide research into the problem of bladder cancer in 1947. The report—to which the then Chief Inspector of Factories drew attention in his 1958 annual report on industrial health—was published in 1954. It showed that there was an increased risk of bladder cancer amongst workers employed at that time in the rubber cable industry. As outlined in the 1965 annual report on industrial health, the Factory Inspectorate carried out a limited survey of the rubber and cable making industries in 1961 and a full survey in 1965. Draft carcinogenic substances regulations—later the Carcinogenic Substances Regulations 1967—were circulated for comment in 1964.In 1965 the advisory panel of the Senior Medical Inspector of Factories—now the Medical Advisory Committee of the Health and Safety Commission—set up a mortality study of its workers in the rubber and cable making industries. The results of the analysis of this study showed that there was an association between lung and stomach cancer and work in the rubber tyre sector. As this information became available in 1974 and 1976 respectively so it was published.