European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Chemicals and REACH

The use of chemicals takes a heavy toll on European workers in all sectors - up to 30% of recognized occupational diseases and tens of thousands of preventable deaths each year are caused by exposure to hazardous substances. This is behind wide social inequalities in health, and is why the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) consistently pushed to get the REACH Regulation onto the books.

This set of rules prevents chemicals being sold unless information is supplied on the hazards and risks they pose to health and the environment, and is an opportunity to reduce chemical risks at the workplace. The information generated by REACH should also help make the EU directives that protect workers against chemical hazards (the Chemical Agents Directive and Carcinogens Directive) more effective. Aware that the reform will deliver results only if workers take ownership of it, the ETUI has produced a series of publications on chemicals and organizes meetings for the chemical hazards specialists of ETUC member organizations.

Further readings:

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Visit the RISCTOX database of hazardous substances that provides information on over 100,000 chemical agents. It provides clear, organized and concise information about health and environmental risks caused by chemicals contained in products generally used or handled by companies.

News

ETUI seminar on carcinogens at work and chemical risks

6 July 2018

The 14th edition of the ETUI’s annual seminar on workers’ protection and chemicals took place in Brussels on 21 and 22 June 2018. It brought together some 40 trade union members from across Europe with a view to coordinating trade union action on the fight against occupational cancers.

REACH after 10 years: state of play after registration deadline

30 May 2018

The European Regulation on chemicals (REACH) is based on the ‘no data, no market’ principle. Manufacturers and importers of chemical substances had a period of 10 years to register their products with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). That period ended on 31 May. Tony Musu, an ETUI expert on chemical risks, takes stock of the situation.

EU launches new awareness campaign on dangerous substances at work

3 May 2018

In order to draw attention to health and safety issues in the workplace, the European Commission and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has launched in late April a new campaign titled “Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances”. This two-year long initiative is aimed at promoting various techniques for the management of hazardous substances in the workplace.

United States: Black lung disease on the rise

10 April 2018

An article published on 6 February 2018 in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health had identified 416 cases of progressive massive fibrosis, commonly called black lung disease, among coal miners in central Appalachia from 2013 to 2017. New cases of black lung had been rare until recently, but this study suggests that the incidence is rising.

Cleaning products as bad for lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day, scientists warn

20 February 2018

Regular use of cleaning sprays has an impact on lung health comparable with smoking a pack of cigarettes every day, according to a new study.