Stop Cancer at Work….

….is the headline message from the European Federation of Builders and Woodworkers (EFBWW)   “Policy On The Protection Of Workers Exposed To Dangerous Chemicals At Workplaces” as cancer apparently is the cause of over half of all EU work-related deaths.

This document highlights a number of dangerous chemicals and substances of concern where the EFBWW believes legislation is lagging behind in terms of worker protection:

  • asbestos
  • creosotes
  • crystalline silica
  • dichloromethane in paint strippers
  • diesel exhaust emissions
  • formaldehyde
  • man-made mineral fibres
  • nanomaterials
  • wood dust

The Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive aims to protect workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work.  Surprisingly despite being revised three times and most recently in 2004 this directive only actually provides exposure limits for benzene, vinyl chloride monomer and hardwood dust.  It is understood that the European Commission is proposing changes to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (2004/37/EC) to limit exposure to 13 cancer-causing chemicals at the workplace, including ‘respirable crystalline silica’ (RCS).  With many Construction workers being exposed to mutiple sources of these cancer causing substances the EFBWW are calling for The Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive to be revised as soon as possible.

Alongside, on 25 May 2016, six European organisations signed a covenant committing them to a voluntary action scheme to raise awareness of the risks arising from exposures to carcinogens in the workplace and exchange good practices. You can find out more in the video below and at the dedicated web page on taking action on cancer with links to the EUs Road map on carcinogens here.

It is up to all of us to lead by example so what are you going to do to minimise exposure of yourself, your family, friends and colleagues to carcinogenic material.  As can be seen by adopting some of the EFBWW’s recommendations for revised exposure limits given in their policy document, for example, a real difference in the number of deaths for RCS can be made.