How healthy is your workplace? Are you familiar with the risks of the
substances you handle and are they being properly managed? To make
workers and employers aware about the relevant risks at their
workplaces, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) recently launched a “Healthy Workplaces” campaign on managing dangerous substances. We talked to Ms Elke Schneider, a Senior Project Manager in the Prevention and Research Unit at EU-OSHA, to find out more.
According to the EU Roadmap on carcinogens,
nearly 80 000 cancer deaths are attributed to work-related exposure to
carcinogenic substances in the EU each year. Many of these deaths could
be avoided by properly assessing the risks and controlling the
What is the campaign about?
campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of protecting
workers from risks due to exposure to dangerous substances and
eliminate, or if this is not possible, manage the risks. It is the
second such campaign on this topic organised by EU-OSHA.
In many businesses, in particular SMEs,
there are misconceptions that they do not use dangerous substances,
they are not affected by them and therefore there is no risk to
their workers. However, experience shows that chemicals may be present
at almost every workplace and there is a need to promote a preventive
culture in companies.
According to Ms Schneider, about half of the diseases in the European schedule of occupational diseases are linked to exposure to dangerous substances.
the campaign, a dangerous substance is considered to be any substance
that poses a risk to workers’ safety and health. It can be in a gas,
liquid or solid form, including aerosols, fumes and vapours and can
include manufactured and process-generated substances, such as diesel
exhaust or silica dust, and natural substances like crude oil or flour