Responding to vote in the European Parliament on the Villumsen report on protecting workers from asbestos, ETUC Deputy General Secretary Claes-Mikael Ståhl said:
“Nobody should die because of their job. Yet more than 100,000 people still lose their lives every year in Europe from work-related cancer and asbestos is responsible for more than half of those deaths.
“Construction workers, miners, firefighters and waste disposal workers have been among those most likely to develop lung cancer because of contact with asbestos, but the widespread use of the material in buildings means many teachers and office workers have also died.
“This silent killer has been tolerated for too long so trade unions are relieved the European Parliament has supported protections which could save up to 90,000 lives a year following a campaign led by the EFBWW and we call on the Commission and Council to put them into action as soon as possible. The Commission removed the asbestos from its own offices in the mid-1990s so it’s not right the problem should still be tolerated at other people’s workplaces.
“This is a vital first step towards ending the scandal of work-related cancer. But there are still no workplace exposure limits for 23 high-risk cancer-causing substances, while limits for another 27 carcinogens are often still far too high to protect workers from cancers which can be fatal or cause reproductive problems. It’s time for the Commission to match its rhetoric on combating cancer with action.”
Letter sent by European trade unions to MEPs: https://www.efbww.eu/news/asbestos-efbww-sends-letter-to-meps/2689-a
ETUC position on the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027: https://www.etuc.org/en/document/etuc-position-eu-strategic-framework-health-and-safety-work-2021-2027