NEWSWATCH
OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE LIMITS
EU Urged to Adopt Binding OELs for More than 70 Carcinogens
A recent report urges the European Union (EU) to adopt binding occupational exposure limits (BOELs) for more than 70 carcinogenic substances, including beryllium, formaldehyde, crystalline silica, and cadmium. According to a document from the European Commission (PDF), BOELs should account for socio-economic and technical feasibility factors in addition to factors considered when establishing indicative occupational exposure limit values (IOELVs), which are health-based, non-binding values intended to assist employers in determining and assessing risks. Member states must adopt BOELs as minimum standards at the national level. The report, which identifies carcinogens to which workers are exposed via inhalation at many European workplaces, was published by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), an independent research and training center focused on workers’ interests throughout Europe. “The setting of a binding exposure limit value under European legislation would enable a significant reduction in worker exposure levels,” ETUI’s press release reads. “Legislative reform along these lines is urgent because the lack of prevention in the workplace currently causes more than 100,000 cancer deaths each year.” The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IFA), a research and testing branch of the German Social Accident Insurance in Germany, lists BOELs of the European Commission for five substances: asbestos, benzene, lead and inorganic compounds, hardwood dusts, and vinyl chloride. Some EU member states have identified limit values at a national level. For more information, see ETUI’s press release. The full report, “Carcinogens that should be subject to binding limits on workers’ exposure,” is available as a PDF download via the institute’s website.
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