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back to article Union blasts chip industry's 'cancer risk denial'

The UK’s largest trade union has slammed the semiconductor industry after it told the British government that a national study to look into the effects of work-related cancer in the chip biz was unnecessary. Unite said today that it was perplexed by senior bosses at chip firms who insist that there was “no clear evidence” that …


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Paris Hilton

Exposure to toxic chemicals?

Surely in this litigious day and age where have "warning: Hot" on coffee and "warning: glass" on windows something like providing your staff with proper PPE shouldn't even be something that AMD has to think about- it should just agree completely.

And, adopting that stance (as we do at my work- anything unsafe hapenning and you can step in and stop it- costs money in the short term but prevents lawsuits and deaths.) surely any actual exposure to these chemicals would be due to someone NOT following safety procedures or wearing the appropriate PPE.

Paris as she's probably used to harmful chemicals...


Who cares ?

Who cares , with any form of statistics one can make the innocent canary the guilty party irrespective that which is ultimately listed on one's mortal Death Certificate death by any form of cancer is but number seven in the top seven list of choices for any age or gender group !

As for Cancer Clusters , like the Love Canal low cost public housing estate built on a known toxic chemical dump site Debacle , the Health Department usually amalgamate and consolidate them into the country wide basis, for if forced to investigate every such incidence would require to much thought and effort from their normal over taxed one brain cell one track a time thought pattern unless exposed by the mass propaganda media by which then they fall back to the old classic line "Privacy of the individual is paramount " which really means "tell it to some one who cares because we don't give a Rats A**** " , now ain't that the real truth !

Now why would a wanker wish to create just another piece of useless wall paper , for some one else to waste more money on , generate another file to choke the already overflowing circular cabinet of useless information when the Health Department does not want any more , when he could equally commission his own piece of propaganda from union funds , that be the question ?


Re: Who cares?

Obviously the Union does, representing the interests of it's members.

Considering the evidence so far (inconclusive as it is) it would be irresponsible for the Union not to be concerned and want further study. In fact if they did not do anything then the Union full-timers could legitimately be taken to task by their membership.

I am not saying that IBM, Intel, AMD et al are the equivalent of Turner and Newall but the Union obviously sees the dangers.

Turner and Newall were the company that wheedled and lied about the dangers of asbestos; which the government also knew about, but did nothing to protect the workers for decades.

Compensation after the fact is all very well (if it can be won or the victims do not die first), but it is far better not to have peoples lives destroyed in the first place.


The Unions, the people who gave you the weekend.


Workers Memorial Day

Oh, and I forgot to mention Workers Memorial Day, which was yesterday (April 28th).

"Mourn for the dead, fight for the living"



If you agree to commission a study, then obviously there must be some risk, or a possibility of risk, since otherwise there would be no need for a study.

And obviously it would be highly irresponsible to carry on producing semiconductors until the study was concluded.

All out comrades!

Silver badge

In related news

Diebold - creator of the e-voting machine - has dismissed any independant review of its machines, citing Intellectual Property and baselessness.

Sure, we'll trust you because you say we should.

Yeah, right.


Re: Exposure to toxic chemicals?

Of course staff are provided with PPE. They are trained to use it and disciplined if they don't follow safety procedures. At least this was the case in the one fab I've worked in.

You have to understand that the manufacturing of semiconductors is inherently very hazardous. Just looking at the chemical exposure side of things - there is arsenic, various solvents and hydrofluoric acid to name a few. Anyone doing invasive work on a tool which contains arsenic is provided with gloves, respirator, etc. and has regular urine tests to monitor exposure. The area they are working in will also be cordoned off for the duration of the work. However it is possible that contamination will spread and a 100% guaranteed containment is just not feasible.

Another potential cause of cancer might (allegedly) be radiation from ion implanters. Naturally these are heavily shielded and periodically checked but some will always get through no matter how thick the shielding.

In short - they are very mindfull of health and safety but maybe it's not enough.


"Of course" staff are provided with PPE?

The semiconductor industry has been around a long time, operated in different countries and to different standards in different workplaces.

Talking about PPE assumes that PPE protects effectively against the hazard, and at the moment nobody is claiming to understand what the hazard is/was. As an unconnected example, I remember being told to use an extractor because or rosin fumes from soldering, then finding out that the filter was for particles many times larger than the rosin particles.

I think the other problem is that companies and workers tend to base their protective measures on data sheets and regulations. The problem is that industries such as semiconductor manufacturing have changed their substances and processes faster than reliable data or regulation can keep up.

UNITE is right to call for research so that action can be based on evidence rather than guesswork. To those who think a report would just become wallpaper, that might be the wish of those in the industry who are currently resisting writing it, but would workers in the industry and their unions ignore it? I don't think so.




From the same AC who posted 'Re: Exposure to toxic chemicals?':

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for research and investigation. My point was that the obvious safety measures such as PPE are (in my experience) in place but that doesn't mean the risk is mitigated. I was defending the companies but only to an extent. The fact that they don't have deaths every day means they must be doing something for health and safety, but it doesn't mean they aren't leaving people ill years later.

You're quite right about data sheets not keeping up too. I've used chemicals that were 'too new' to have any proper safety data sheets - just an educated guess that they would have similar effects to similar chemicals i.e. carcinogenic.

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