On October 25, the European Parliament gave its green light to restrict the exposure of millions of EU workers to carcinogenic and mutagenic substances with the aim of saving 100,000 lives in the next 50 years. Through this first revision of the rules in 10 years, which limits values for 11 new substances and makes limit values for two older substances stricter, the Socialists and Democrats managed to push through an ambitious agenda for workers’ health.
The European Parliament’s negotiator, S&D MEP Marita Ulvskog, stated:
“Today we have voted in favour of a very important EU law which will protect the health of millions of workers. The law sets out new and stricter limits for substances which can cause cancer. We are talking here about substances such as crystalline silica, chromium or even hardwood dust.
“Protecting the health of people at their workplace is of the utmost importance. Millions of workers are concerned, especially those employed in construction, wood-related industries, the paper or chemical industry. Workers involved with the production of everything from children’s clothing, to metal products, cosmetics or to airplanes, can be affected. In the EU, half of the deaths caused by a disease linked to a profession are attributed to cancer.
“We fought hard and obtained that health surveillance for the workers concerned will continue even after the exposure. Diseases can appear months and years after the person has been exposed to those harmful substances. “With the new rules voted today, over 100,000 lives will be saved over 50 years by stricter limits on exposure to those carcinogens.”
S&D Group spokesperson on employment and social affairs, Jutta Steinruck, added:
“The European Parliament proved again its added-value for every EU citizen by adopting an EU law to protect workers from the exposure to carcinogenic substances. With the up-to-date legislative framework, we have a tool to introduce new limit values for further substances without delaying any longer and to broaden the scope of the directive to include reprotoxic substances, where workers still do not have adequate protection. The S&D Group will always place citizens’ health in the forefront.”