A new European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) report identifies more than 70 carcinogenic substances for which binding limit values for exposure of workers at the workplace should be defined at European Union (EU) levels.
Legislation on the prevention of occupational cancers was first adopted in the European Union in 1990. The legislation in question contains provision for only three binding limit values. Adding to these the two limit values defined in other directives (asbestos and lead), less than 20% of situations of real worker exposure to carcinogenic substances and procedures are currently covered by a compulsory exposure limit at the European level.
Calls for revision of this legislation have come from the trade unions as well as from several member states. In December 2014 the European Trade Union Confederation’s Executive Committee asked the ETUI to identify the carcinogenic substances and procedures for which a limit value should be defined at the European level.
The resulting report identifies 71 substances and procedures. The setting of a binding exposure limit value under European legislation would enable a significant reduction in worker exposure levels. Legislative reform along these lines is urgent because the lack of prevention in the workplace currently causes more than 100,000 cancer deaths each year.