Community news|02/12/15

Occupational cancers: An expert brings the EU face to face with its responsibilities

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In a new publication by the ETUI, an international occupational health expert invites the EU to act as a driver for the elimination of occupational cancers.

“We can and must have a more ambitious objective: to eliminate occupational cancers”, says Jukka Takala, an occupational health expert and former director of EU-OSHA, in a report published by the ETUI in early October. He invites the European Union to act as a driving force in the global combat against “the cancer epidemic”.

Mr Takala estimates that occupational cancers cause 102,500 deaths in the EU each year, or twenty times more than accidents at work. Around 47,000 deaths per year in the EU are estimated to be asbestos-related. Other less well known carcinogens such as mineral oils, solar radiation, silica, diesel engine exhaust gases, etc. also cause a large number of cancers. Work organization is also involved: shift work increases the risk of cancer, especially breast cancer.

As a very large producer of chemical substances, the EU must play a key role in preventing occupational cancers, according to Jukka Takala. And he gives a reminder that, with the REACH Regulation, Europe has a tool allowing progress to be made in this area, not to mention the extensive European legislation devoted specifically to the protection of workers from carcinogens. This legislation should be strengthened, in particular by adopting compulsory occupational exposure limit values for a larger number of carcinogens, he recommends.

Download the report

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