The European Parliament, Council and Commission have provisionally agreed on amendments to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive to further protect workers’ health.
The agreement will see an additional five hazardous and toxic chemicals added to the directive’s list of known carcinogens to which workers’ exposure must be limited, bringing the total number of restricted cancer-causing chemicals to 27. Cancer is responsible for 53 per cent of work-related deaths in the EU; and the addition to the restricted list of the five chemicals – arsenic acid, beryllium, cadmium, formaldehyde and 4,4′-Methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline)(MOCA) – is projected to prevent more than 22,000 cases of work-related sickness.
Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “Today’s agreement confirms once again the strong commitment from all actors to the European Pillar of Social Rights. I extend my thanks to rapporteur Laura Agea and the shadow rapporteurs on behalf of the European Parliament, and to the Romanian Presidency and its predecessors on behalf of the Council. This agreement should now be confirmed quickly to ensure the new rules are in place for the European elections in May 2019.”
The Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive, first adopted in a basic form in 2004, is subject to continuous updating in light of scientific developments and evidence-based practices. As part of a wider effort by the Commission to improve workplace health and safety standards, the directive has received three major amendments since its inception.
Romanian Minister for Labour and Social Justice Marius-Constantin Budăi said: “Today’s agreement is a further step to protect millions of workers from the exposure to carcinogens. The directive, when adopted, will improve the working conditions for workers across the EU and prevent thousands of cases of ill-health at the workplace.”
The updated Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive must now be approved by representatives of Member States in the Council of the EU. Once it has passed into force the Commission will begin to assess the potential of an additional amendment restricting workers’ occupational exposure to airborne cadmium and setting a biological limit value. Separately, the Commission intends to examine the possibility of extending the overview of the directive to include a list of drugs which are hazardous or cytotoxic (toxic to living cells).