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Considering health and safety needs when cancer survivors return to work

A resource to help employers support staff affected by, and recovering from, cancer in their return to work is being developed by experts at the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) and Loughborough University.

In the UK approximately 90,000 people of working age are diagnosed with cancer each year, and estimates suggest up to 84% of people who have had cancer return to work.

But the process of returning to work can be disrupted by physical health problems and / or limitations as a result of cancer and subsequent treatment, and there is evidence of increased risk of accidents for individuals returning to work after diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Fehmidah Munir and Dr Hilary McDermott in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS) are working with Dr Joanne Crawford and colleagues at IOM to provide cancer-specific guidance to help those involved in managing workplace safety and health.

Dr Munir has previously worked with Macmillan Cancer Support to develop work related guidance tools for use by people affected by cancer.

In this project, she will work with SSEHS colleague Dr McDermott to review existing literature on cancer patients and their treatment, and to help develop a series of case studies and the final guidance tool.

Dr Munir said:

“More and more people who are affected by, and recovering from cancer are returning to work during and after treatment, but there is very little health and safety guidance available to employers, and many do not understand the impact cancer and its treatment might have on employees and their ability to work.

“This project, which looks specifically at the health and safety implications for employees returning to work, will build on the Work it Out tools we’ve previously developed with Macmillan Cancer Support.”

The Return to work after cancer: consideration of safety and health needs project is funded by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).