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Safety at Work

Volume 449: debated on Tuesday 25 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of workers who suffered from occupational exposure to (a) methyl bromide and (b) sulphuric acid in the latest year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (85606)

Available information via reports to HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) in 2004-05 revealed 19 injuries to workers where reports mentioned the term “sulphuric acid” but no injuries mentioning “methyl bromide”. Of these injuries, 13 were recorded as burns and four as asphyxiations or poisonings. This information from RIDDOR is limited by significant under-reporting of relevant cases to HSE and local authorities.

Since 2000, there have been a small number of reports of cases of ill health resulting from occupational exposure to sulphuric acid or methyl bromide by consultant occupational and NHS physicians reporting to The Health and Occupation Reporting (THOR) network, a voluntary reporting scheme for work-related illness sponsored by the Health and Safety Executive. These are described in the following table. THOR will record only those cases where the individual has access to an occupational physician or which are serious enough to be referred for hospital assessment. Many clinicians reporting to the network do so only one month in twelve, meaning that only a proportion of all cases will be recorded.

THOR 2000 onwards: cases of injury and illness attributed to sulphuric acid and methyl bromide

Agent

Illness or injury

Number of reported cases

Sulphuric acid

Asthma

3

Cough

1

Inhalation accident

1

Burn

1

Methyl bromide

“Poisoning”

3