Since May 2016, the European Parliament and Council of Ministers has been discussing the proposed amendment of the EU Directive on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work (2004/37/EC).
According to the World Health Organisation, cancer is the most common cause of work-related deaths in the European Union with 53 per cent of occupational deaths attributable to cancer. Therefore, the EU Commission has decided to amend the relevant Directive. The aim is to ensure adequate protection for affected workers by introducing new exposure limit values or revising existing ones.
The proposal contains measures intended to reduce exposure to carcinogenic substances. More than 20 predominately chemical substances were examined to determine whether they are hazardous to health and, in this particular case, increase the likelihood of cancer. From the results, the Commission has set specific exposure limit values for 13 of these substances in the proposed amendment. The upper limit for two substances already listed in the 2004 Directive have been tightened. In addition, eleven other limits for chemical substances have been included. The reach of this amended Directive would be enormous because an estimated 20 million workers come into contact with at least one of these substances as part of their job.
In October 2016, the Council reached an agreement regarding the amendment of the Directive. The European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs is also discussing the Commission’s proposal. Reporting Secretary Marita Ulvskog is expected to submit her draft report at the end of November.