Photo credit: Sylvain Metropolyt

The 18th ETUI annual seminar on workers’ protection and chemicals was held in Zadar, Croatia, on 28-29 June 2022. It brought together some thirty trade unionists from 17 European countries to coordinate trade union action on the forthcoming revision of three important directives for the prevention of chemical risks at work.

The first is the Asbestos at work directive, the second is the directive on Carcinogens, Mutagens and Reprotoxic substances (CMRs) and the third is the directive on Chemical Agents.  The European Commission has announced the publication by the end of 2022 of proposals for the revision of these legislations to introduce new occupational exposure limit values for asbestos, lead and its derivatives and di-isocyanates respectively.

The other main topic of the two-day debate was the exposure of workers to pesticides. Participants were informed about the results of the Agrican survey, which demonstrates the excess risk of certain cancers in workers exposed to these toxic substances, and about the results of recent studies on the failure of protective equipment used by these workers. The proposed revision of EU legislation on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides and the trade union campaign to ban glyphosate were also on the agenda.

A representative of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) gave an update on the study conducted by the Bilbao agency in six European countries on workers’ exposure to carcinogens, and the coordinator of the European "Roadmap on Carcinogens" project detailed the progress made in the framework of this programme of voluntary actions for the prevention of occupational cancers.

A selection of the presentations made during the seminar is available below: