Beating cancer: Protecting the EU’s workers

MEUSAC article published in Voice of the Workers Weekly – 12.11.2020

Every year, in the European Union, more than 100,000 work-related cancer cases occur as a result of exposure to carcinogens at the place of work. Approximately, 80,000 fatalities are registered annually as a result.

The numbers across the European Union are alarmingly high. In response, the European Commission has in September proposed a revision to the current Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive with the aim of further limiting exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

Once the proposed revision goes through, it is expected that more than 1.1 million workers within the European Union employed in a wide range of sectors will benefit from improved protection.

The proposal is considered to be the first Commission initiative to fight cancer under the Beating Cancer Plan. So far, the mentioned Directive has addressed workers’ exposure to 26 chemicals.

Introducing new or revised work-related exposure limits for the three new substances (acrylonitrile, nickel compounds and benzene) will of course have clear benefits for workers. Work-related cases of cancer and other serious illnesses will be prevented, improving overall general health and quality of life for employees.

The proposed change will also benefit various industries by reducing costs caused by work-related illnesses and cancer, such as absenteeism and insurance pay-outs.

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