Health surveillance of workers exposed to asbestos: an example of co-operation between the occupational prevention system and the national health system

Revista Espanola de Salud Publica. 2006 Jan-Feb;80(1):27-39. [Link]

Garcia Gomez M, Artieda Pellejero L, Esteban Buedo V, Guzman Fernandez A, Camino Duran F, Martinez Castillo A, Lezzaun Goni M, Gallo Fernandez M, Gonzalez Garcia I, Martinez Arguisuelas N, Elvira Espinosa M, Sanchez de Navas AM, Zimmermann Verdejo M, Campos Acedo R, Galvan Olivares F, Castaneda Lopez R, Estaun Blasco E, Castell Salva R, Martinez-Portillo LM, Rubio Sanz A, Unamuno Achucarro A, Fernandez Fernandez I, Lama Herrera C, Mayoral Cortes JM.

Area de Salud Laboral, Direccion General de Salud Publica, Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo.


The Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs and the Autonomous Governments of Spain have designed and agreed by consensus with the sanitary professionals and major employer’s organizations and Unions a Integral Health Surveillance Programme of asbestos-exposed workers, in order to assure appropriate, uniform and harmonized action throughout the national territory with relation to these workers.

Program Description: This initiative started from the Occupational Health Working group of the Interterritorial Council, with inputs from the Asbestos Working Group of the National Occupational Safety and Health Commission. It was agreed with occupational medicine and infirmary professionals and was approved by the Health and Labour authorities. The program is organised in seven main activities.

Current Program Status: two years after the Programme approval a total of 5778 workers are included in the Registry of asbestos-exposed workers. 208 workers have COPD, 198 benign pleural disease, 8 lung cancer, 10 mesothelioma and 7 workers have other cancers possibly related to asbestos (gastric, larynx and colon cancer).

Remarks: the agreement and participation reached in this Programme allow achieving much higher coverage of occupational prevention policies than those obtained with a mere law approval, as we could see during the second year of implementation of the Programme in which the number of attended workers has doubled.