EU protects workers from 3 cancerous substances – but more action needed

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Trade unions welcome action by the European Commission today to protect over 1.1 million people from work-related cancer by putting binding exposure limits on three dangerous substances.

The Commission has proposed Binding Occupational Exposure Limit Values (BOELs) on Acrylonitrile, Nickel compounds and Benzene as part of an update to its Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD).

The new legislation will particularly protect workers in the manufacturing and construction industries. It means new or updated limits have now been placed on 27 carcinogens since 2014.

But no action has been taken to limit exposure levels to 20 more cancer-causing substances, while existing exposure limits for common workplace carcinogens like Crystalline Silica, Diesel emissions and asbestos do not offer sufficient protection and urgently need to be updated. The objective of the ETUC is to have at least 50 priority carcinogens with BOELs under the CMD by 2024.

In addition, some of the obligations  from the previous revisions of the directive are still to be fulfilled despite the deadline for doing so having expired. The ETUC therefore urges the European Commission to extend the scope of CMD to substances toxic for reproduction and to hazardous medicinal products. 



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