Protection of workers from biological agents: how to classify COVID-19
The Employment and Social Affairs Committee will debate with the Commission on Wednesday how to classify SARS-CoV-2, responsible for COVID-19, to protect workers’ health and safety.
On Wednesday afternoon from 15.00 - 16.00, Members of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL) will debate with the Commission the proposed classification of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in risk category 3, the second most dangerous category of biological agents.
Parliament has the right to veto this measure, within one month after it has been adopted by the Commission, foreseen for the beginning of June.
Classification in risk group 3 means that the biological agent can “cause severe human disease and present a serious hazard to workers; it may present a risk of spreading to the community, but there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available”. The SARS and MERS viruses are examples of risk group 3 viruses. Ebola is in risk group 4.
EU directives protect workers against the risks of exposure to biological agents (bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms) at work. Depending on their level of danger, they are classified in risk groups on an increasing scale from 1 to 4. Risk group 1 includes the least hazardous agents, group 4 lists the most hazardous ones.
The Biological Agents Directive lays down minimum requirements for the health and safety of workers exposed to biological agents at work.
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