Every year on 28 April, the trade unions stage an event to condemn deaths caused by work. This year, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has chosen to focus on the need to adopt new health and safety laws at EU level. “Workers need better protection. New laws are needed now,” said Esther Lynch, the ETUC Confederal Secretary in charge of occupational health and safety issues.
“The best way to protect workers from disease and injury is through laws at EU and national level. Health protection should not be deregulated or privatised. New technology and innovation have created, and medical research identified, new risks. Strong laws should be backed up by strong enforcement and a strong system of workplace health and safety representatives”, she added.
The ETUC calls more specifically for the European Union to adopt threshold limit values for occupational exposure to 50 carcinogenic substances. The European workers’ movement emphasises that every year 100,000 people die in the EU from cancers developed at work.
Besides dealing with occupational cancers, the ETUC also wants new regulations to be adopted to tackle workers’ exposure to nanoparticles, to psycho-social risks (including stress, violence and harassment) and to the development of musculoskeletal disorders such as neck, back and elbow pain.
To raise awareness, the ETUC will be organising an ‘online action’ from 18 to 28 April alongside trade union leaders who will be demanding new European health and safety regulations.
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