Workplace risks: Final vote on protection from carcinogens, including diesel fumes

Diesel 2018

(Unsplash, 2018)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


MEPs updated rules to protect workers from exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic substances, including diesel fumes, in a vote on Tuesday.

In order to protect some 3.6 million workers in the EU potentially exposed to diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEE), the Parliament succeeded in including diesel fumes in the scope of the new rules and in setting the corresponding exposure limit value.

The new provisions set exposure limit values (maximum amount of substance allowed in workplace air) and skin notations (the possibility of significantly absorbing the substance through the skin) for eight additional carcinogens (including DEEE). The new rules should further lower the risk for workers of getting cancer, which remains the primary cause of work-related deaths across the EU.

Background

Substances added to the list of carcinogens:

  • Diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEE)
  • Epichlorohydrine
  • Ethylene dibromide
  • Ethylene dichloride
  • 4,4′-Methylenedianiline
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons mixtures, particularly those containing benzo[a]pyrene
  • Mineral oils that have been used before in internal combustion engines to lubricate and cool the moving parts within the engine.

Quote

Claude Rolin (EPP, BE), rapporteur, said: “This vote is a successful outcome, as we managed to introduce a limit value for diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEE), after months of negotiation. In the European Union, millions of workers are exposed to DEEE. This second revision of the directive sends a clear signal: monitoring occupational exposure to more and more harmful substances substantially increases workers’ protection. We need to constantly monitor this. Cancer is the leading cause of work-related death in the E.U. It is unacceptable that workers lose their lives while trying to earn a living.”

The final text was adopted with 585 votes to 46 and 35 abstentions.

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