MEPs in the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee have taken an important step towards the more efficient protection of workers from harmful substances in the workplace by adopting a new Report amending current EU legislation on the exposure to carcinogens and mutagens. The Report is aimed at strengthening the protection of workers from these substances. MEPs on the committee also propose to expand the scope of the current Directive to include reprotoxic substances which, amongst others, are believed to cause fertility problems.

Claude Rolin MEP, responsible for the dossier for the EPP Group, is pleased with this ambitious approach: “We have been waiting for more than 10 years to have this proposal for a revision. New rules are needed urgently to ensure the efficient protection of workers from harmful substances that may cause cancer or lead to fertility problems. I think the consensus we have reached and adopted today is a significant achievement."

To ensure the welfare of workers in the long run, the role of the Member States and the dialogue with and between social partners is essential. "If we want to achieve a more efficient prevention process, we need pragmatic and watertight worker protection rules at European level in order to avoid a patchwork of national legislation."

The Report adopted today further proposes stricter value limits for three substances (chromium VI, wood dust, and breathable crystalline silica). It also aims to improve data collection on exposure to harmful substances. Promoting safe and sound workplaces with life-long health surveillance is a key issue from a public health perspective that requires a step-by-step approach, within enhanced social dialogue.

NOTE TO EDITORS

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 217 Members from 27 Member States

In May 2016, the European Commission proposed to amend Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work. This Report is part of a long-term plan to improve workers’ health protection.

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