The Danish government has set a precedent by paying out compensation to women who have developed breast cancer after working night shifts. The move comes after the UN-backed International Agency For Research On Cancer found that there was an increased likelihood of developing cancer for those who worked nights.
Are you a night worker? Do you feel you’re risking your health for the sake of your job?
And what if you’re an employer, where night work is essential – are you responsible if someone in your workforce develops cancer? Should you pay compensation, or the government? Or should you just inform workers of the risks?
Several studies over many years have found that women are more prone to breast cancer while some research suggests that men working at night may have a higher rate of prostate cancer.
Of course there is no way to know if you would develop cancer and if you did, if it is linked to night working. I worked nights for almost 7 years earlier in my career. While many journalists working on papers and on radio and television breakfast shows have to work nights – you could argue it’s not essential. But what about hospital staff, police officers, fire men and women – don’t we need them to be there for us 24 hours a day? What is the way round it? Getting staff to sign a waiver, paying them more?
This blogger says unions in the UK estimate about 20% of the national workforce is involved in night shifts.
While this one says for years, scientists have known that people who work night shifts – about 15 million people in the United States – are unusually prone to heart disease, bone fractures, cancer, diabetes and obesity.” It also says says the best therapy would be to permanently move to night work, rather than a combination of nights and days.
A union in the Netherlands says it may follow suit and sue for compensation for its female workers.
This blogger says 20 per cent of the workforce in technologically developed countries work night shifts.
We’ll be hearing from one woman who’s received compensation from the Danish government on today’s show.
Is it worth risking your health for your job?