The Socialists and Democrats in the employment committee broadly backed today the third proposal of the European Commission this parliamentary term to protect European workers from exposure to an additional five carcinogenic or mutagenic substances in the workplace. The new rules are expected to improve the health of over 1 million workers and prevent over 22.000 cases of work-related illness.
The new proposal introduces limit values for inhalation exposure for two substances (formaldehyde and 4,4'-methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline)) and for three groups of substances (cadmium and its inorganic compounds; beryllium and its inorganic compounds; and arsenic acid and its salts, as well as inorganic arsenic compounds). Among the Parliament’s own proposals is an agreement for the European Commission to have a closer look at how to best protect workers from cytotoxic medications, and an additional limit value for cadmium if biomonitoring is used.
The S&D Group negotiator on the carcinogens and mutagens file, Marita Ulvskog MEP, stated:
“It is incredibly important that the work on health and safety in the workplace continues to move forward. The parliament has shown that we are willing to work swiftly and constructively.
“During the Barroso Commission, health and safety was blocked for over 10 years. This progress marks an important development for the lives of workers.
“We hope that the Commission will be inspired by the constructive work on these proposals to bring forward additional revisions of the CMD directive and to consider additional proposals on health and safety in the workplace.
“In Europe companies should not compete on the basis of workers’ lives.”
S&D spokesperson on employment and social affairs, Agnes Jongerius, MEP, said:
“Today’s vote is another major step towards protecting European citizens’ lives at work. The S&D group has highlighted the need to better protect healthcare workers and the need to consider further legislation to cover handling of cytotoxic medications.
“Ensuring decent and safe working conditions is a top S&D priority and a core principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights. We Socialists and Democrats are committed to further strengthening workers' right to a healthy and safe work environment in order to achieve better working conditions in the EU for all workers.
“Millions of workers employed in the construction, wood-related industries, the paper or chemical industries are concerned. Workers building our houses, making our clothes and shoes or producing our electronic devices must be protected from illness at their workplace.
“The Parliament has made quick progress on this third proposal in order to finalise negotiations before the 2019 European Parliament elections. The ball is now on the Council’s court.”
Note to editors
This is the third Commission proposal amending the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive this parliamentary term. The previous two proposals introduced exposure limits for 20 carcinogenic substances, including diesel fumes, proven to cause cancer and mutations.