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The morals of risk assessment.

Occupational Cancer and Carcinogenesis, Vainio H, Sorsa M, Hemminki K, eds., Washington: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation, 1981 Jan; :377-381
Issues underlying the assessment of occupational risk are reviewed. The word risk as used in an occupational context is defined and related to exposure, mortality, transient injury, permanent disability and loss of property. It is argued that worker exposure to occupational risk is similar in both socialist and capitalist societies so that the economic issues involved in minimizing risk may be considered independent of the societies in which they occur. However, the reliability of data on which studies are based does depend on governmental ability to collect figures and maintain records. Risk assessment is of interest to governments because high morbidity and mortality may indict government policy and affect national productivity. The focus should not be limited to one or two diseases but attention should be paid to a full spectra of chronic diseases which can be occupational in origin. Cause and effect relations are difficult to establish with certainty and sensitivity phenomena may make results difficult to reproduce. Technical feasibility and cost/benefit considerations also affect the growth of the body of knowledge of occupational risk. Difficulties of extrapolating data from animal studies may slow progress in establishing what factors engender risk. Human data may be more difficult to standardize as fewer variables can be controlled. Hidden risks may require expensive longitudinal studies to confirm, and are just as deleterious as diseases of sudden incidence. Some occupations may exacerbate other preexisting chronic diseases. The international scientific community must view the above considerations to establish a body of knowledge to help governments and individuals to minimize risk.
Carcinogenesis; Quantitative-analysis; Neoplasms; Physiology; Workplace-studies; Tumorigenesis; Risk-factors; Neoplastic-agents; Tumorigens; Cancer; Workers
Publication Date
Document Type
Book or book chapter
Vainio-H; Sorsa-M; Hemminki-K
Fiscal Year
Source Name
Occupational Cancer and Carcinogenesis
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division