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Cancer investigation at NatSemi plant

Staff to have health checked by HSE

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National Semiconductor in Scotland is to be investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over cancer fears from staff. The HSE said it would conduct a one-year study on the health of current and ex-employees at the chipmaker's factory in Greenock. The announcement follows concerns from local pressure group Phase Two. The research aims to discover how many employees of the plant have had cancer since the factory opened in 1970, the government said. This number will then be compared to average cancer levels in the general UK workforce. According to the HSE: "Some chemicals in the industry have the potential to cause cancer if they are not used according to health and safety legislation." Current and past employees of NatSemi have received letters asking for their co-operation to let the HSE look at their health records. The factory currently has around 900 employees, but in total around 4000 people have worked there. Stewart Campbell, head of operations at the HSE's Scottish Field Operations Directorate, told The Register he was keen to trace ex-staff from the factory. "HSE recognises that it would be useful to get scientific evidence on the issue," he said. "Dependent on what these findings show, it might be necessary to undertake further investigations." Campbell said five meetings would be held with the current workforce next week to explain the proceedings and answer queries. The HSE group hopes to begin analysing documents at NatSemi before the end of the year. NatSemi said in a statement: "According to the HSE, there is no current scientific evidence showing the existence of an increased incidence of cancer as a result of working at National." "However, we are co-operating with the HSE on its study of our workforce as it seeks to confirm this information." The company refused to speculate on the outcome of the study, but added: "If scientific evidence borne out by the study indicates a link between our facility and adverse health effects, we will take it very seriously and take appropriate action." In March 1998, the HSE conducted a study into women having miscarriages in the semiconductor industry. It concluded there was no increased risk. ® Information can be given to the HSE on 0800 592 450. Related stories NatSemi attacks WSJ cancer claims Workers make cancer claims in NatSemi job cuts factory

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