On 13 May the European Commission presented a proposal for a revision of the directive on carcinogenic and mutagenic agents (2004/37/EC). Concretely, it proposes adding new occupational exposure limit values (OELVs) or changing the existing values to reduce exposure to 13 priority agents.
Some of these 13 agents, such as respirable crystalline silica (RCS), chromium (VI) compounds, hard wood dusts or hydrazine, concern a very large number of workers. Others are apparently encountered less frequently, according to the available information, but are considered as a top priority because the number of cancer cases is high relative to the number of exposed workers. The Commission also announced that 12 other OELVs would be the subject of a legislative proposal before the end of 2016.
According to the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, the new legislation “will be able to save about 100,000 lives over the next 50 years”.
According to Laurent Vogel, researcher with the ETUI, this text “is far too modest” compared with the demands of the Dutch presidency of the EU in the first half of 2016 and the European Trade Union Confederation, which demand the introduction of 50 and 71 OELVs respectively.
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