120,000 cancer cases linked to work activity detected in the EU

Every year, around 120,000 cases of cancer linked to work are detected in the European Union, causing approximately 80,000 deaths annually.

To improve the protection of workers against cancer, the European Commission proposed on Tuesday to further limit their exposure to carcinogenic chemicals.

This fourth revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive establishes new or revised limit values ​​for three important substances: acrylonitrile, nickel compounds and benzene.

According to the European Commission, estimates show that more than 1.1 million workers in a wide range of sectors will benefit from better protection thanks to the new rules.

The announced proposal is the first initiative in the framework of the Commission’s commitment to fight this disease through the imminent European Plan to Fight Cancer.

“A job should be a safe place, and yet cancer is the cause of half of all work-related deaths,” Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, commented through a press release. .


The Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive is regularly updated in line with the latest scientific evidence and technical data.

The previous three updates addressed worker exposure to twenty-six chemicals.

This initiative has been developed in close cooperation with scientists and with representatives of workers, employers and EU Member States.

The social partners (trade unions and employers’ organizations) also participated through a two-phase consultation.

Now the Commission proposal will be negotiated in the European Parliament and in the Council.



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