To improve protection for workers from cancer-causing chemicals, the European Commission has proposed changes to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (2004/37/EC) to limit exposure to 13 cancer-causing chemicals at the workplace.
The Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labor Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: 'Cancer has an enormous impact on workers, their families, industry and society. With this proposal we will save 100,000 lives in the next 50 years. Protection of workers is at the core of the Commission's commitment to a strong social Europe."
Concretely, the Commission proposes to address exposure to 13 cancer-causing chemicals by including new or amended limit values in the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive.
. These limit values set a maximum concentration for the presence of a chemical carcinogen in the workplace air. The proposal is based on scientific evidence and follows broad discussions with scientists, employers, workers, Member States' representatives and labor inspectors, according to the European Commission.
To set limit values for a number of carcinogens under the Directive, the Commission has initiated a scientific and economic assessment of more than 20 priority chemical agents. In the European Union, around 20 million workers are exposed to at least one of these chemical agents. The proposal is to introduce limit values for 13 of these identified priority chemical agents. For the remaining chemical agents, there is further preparatory work to be done and a proposal covering these will follow by the end of 2016.
Some of these 13 carcinogens, such as respirable crystalline silica, chromium (VI) compounds, hardwood dust, or hydrazine, affect very high numbers of workers. For some others, there are indications that use patterns may be lower, but those chemicals are considered a priority as the ratio between the number of exposed workers and cancer cases is high.
Source: European Commission