The European Parliament has given its final approval to stricter EU rules on protecting workers from exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work.
These rules target the primary cause of work-related deaths in the EU, occupational cancer
, and aim to help save up to 100,000 lives in the next 50 years.
Occupational exposure limits, i.e. the maximum quantity of harmful substances that workers can be exposed to, have been set for ten new chemical agents and also for process-generated crystalline silica dust, which is created by mining, cutting or crushing of materials such as concrete, bricks or rocks.
The new legislation also revises exposure limits for two substances already on the list:
- hardwood dusts (produced by cutting or pulverising wood), and
- vinyl chloride monomer (mainly used to produce PVC)
Employers will have to identify and assess risks to workers who are exposed to these substances and take preventive measures.
"I am incredibly happy that the EU has finally revised the carcinogens and mutagens directive,” commented Rapporteur
Marita Ulvskog (S&D, SV). “It took over ten years of pushing to get a more ambitious agenda. Workers need to know they are protected and that companies are not competing on the basis of their health. The EU needs a stronger social agenda and this is a good start. Cancer is the biggest workplace killer and we are going to continue to fight it."
Cancer is the leading cause of work-related deaths in the EU, and the new rules will particularly benefit workers in the construction sector, chemical, automotive, woodworking and furniture industries, manufacturers of food products and textiles, the healthcare sector and hospitals.
If you have been made unwell as a result of your work then contact our specialist personal injury lawyers today.