The European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee has given its backing to new EU rules to better protect workers from exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic substances.
MEPs backed the Commission proposal to set exposure limit values (the maximum amount that a substance should be present in workplace air) and/or skin notations (the possibility that a substance could be significantly absorbed through the skin) for harmful carcinogens.
They also agreed to regulate exposure levels for oils used in automobile, rail, marine and aero-transport engines and portable machinery. The Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits has identified that such oils could be absorbed through the skin with potentially harmful effects.
In addition, in order to protect the four million workers in the EU who are potentially exposed to diesel engine exhaust emissions, MEPs amended the original proposal to add exposure limit values for diesel fumes.
This second revision of a 2004 directive intends to further lower the risk for workers of getting cancer, which is the primary cause of work-related deaths across the EU.
A study conducted by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work showed that the workers who are most at risk from workplace carcinogens are employed in the following sectors:
“Firms and workers will be made more aware of the substances they have been handling and will be able to reduce exposure to these materials,” said Rapporteur Claude Rolin (EPP, BE). “Cancer is the main cause of workers’ deaths in the European Union. I hope that an initiative like this can inspire further improvements to standards.”
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