A new European Commission (EC) directive on hazardous substances will help better protect workers’ health throughout Europe, according to a leading safety group.
The Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection (BOHS) says the EC’s revised Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive is necessary since the old one was “outdated”.
The ruling means that some exposure limits in the workplace will become uniform across Europe.
Permissible new limits will be put on certain cancer-causing and other dangerous substances in and around the workplace. New substances have also been placed on the list.
The directive will now include:
- exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) or stone dust
- 10 more carcinogens – hydrazine, bromoethylene, 1,2-epoxypropane, various refractory ceramic fibres, o-toluidine, 1.3-butadiene, 2-nitropropane, ethylene oxide, acrylamide and various chromium (VI) compounds.
- the revision of current limit values for vinyl chloride monomer and hardwood dusts
New EC plan should help builders
The new regulations have the potential to particularly help builders, who are most at risk from industrial diseases and carcinogens.
BOHS says that previously Europe’s workforce has suffered from greatly fluctuating limits across different countries.
But new recommended exposure limits will bring into line Poland, Austria and other countries with Britain on silica dust limits. These will be set at 0.1mg for every cubic metre – the permissible limit already set in the UK.
British workers will be subject to a bromoethylene exposure limit – something that has never happened before.
BOHS president Tracey Boyle said the planned revisions show how key managing mutagen and carcinogen exposure is. She says that British companies should notice little difference if they are already enforcing good occupational hygiene practice.
Occupational cancer kills thousands
Upwards of 8,000 deaths due to occupational cancer occur each year, according to new BOHS figures.
This number rises to 102,000 deaths across Europe.
No other workplace killer is more prolific than cancer with millions of European workers being exposed to carcinogens every day. The building industry tops the UK league table for biggest percentage of cancer registrations and deaths at more than 40%.
A total of 3,500 ex-builders in Britain die from occupational cancer each year. As many as 5,500 workers in the industry develop the disease in that same timeframe.
Date Published: June 13, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown