Stop Death, Disease and Illness at work

The EU must take action to stop the 100,000 deaths a year caused by occupational cancers.


The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) meeting in Brussels today condemned the European Commission for blocking health and safety improvements* and for putting forward an extremely weak health and safety strategy (‘Framework Strategy 2014-2020’).


The ETUC called today for

  • Legally enforceable exposure limits for 50 of the most cancer-causing chemicals and substances toxic for reproduction;
  • A Directive on musculoskeletal disorders to prevent back injuries and other illnesses caused by heavy lifting or muscular strain;
  •  Action to require employers to assess and prevent psychosocial risks at work such as stress which 25% of workers experience.


Far from taking action to protect citizens from danger at work, the European Commission has

  • blocked the revision of the Directive on Carcinogens or Mutagens at Work, with the result that only 3 cancer inducing chemicals have European exposure limits;
  • blocked an agreement between employers and employees to protect hairdressers from harmful chemicals from becoming law;
  • held back a Directive, which has been drafted, on back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders.


Bernadette Ségol, General Secretary of the ETUC said “It is a scandal that 100,000 people die every year in the EU from occupational cancers, and an outrage that the Barroso Commission refused to pass any new health and safety law. I invite the new Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Commissioner Marianne Thyssen to take action to protect European citizens from death, disease and illness at work.”  


*Done through its ‘regulatory fitness’ programme and using the evaluation of the implementation of existing directives as a pretext