The special report of the latest issue of HesaMag looks at workers' exposure to chemical risks. Six years after the REACH Regulation came onto the books, is Europe’s chemicals market now kinder to health and the environment?

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Be happy - you've been consulted

Despite pressing calls from Parliament, unions, the Luxembourg Advisory Committee and other stakeholders the Commission has not budged. As of late September, there is no sign of any firm plans for a European health and safety at work strategy. This delay will leave a dark legacy. National strategising in many countries of the European Union is done... Find out more

Barbara Matejčić

Croatia: painful lessons in market economics

Croatia joined the European Union in July to indifference among EU citizens and Croats alike. The reason – the economic crisis. The twenty years since the transition to a market economy began have introduced the population to unemployment and job insecurity. Workers who remember the “Socialist economy" era alternate between resignation, nostalgia... Find out more

Denis Grégoire, Fabienne Scandella

Renault drives change for the worse say employees

Malaise in the workplace is on the rise and coming under increasing media scrutiny. Reports often focus on "bullying petty dictators" and "victims" and ignore the work environment. The Renault CGT shop stewards have taken a different route – looking at work organisation to help explain the company’s ills, not least the spate of suicides. We met... Find out more

Vicent Boix

Farmwork in Central America: back to the bad old days

Time seems to have stood still in the plantations of Central America where trade unions are suppressed and near-slavery working conditions still offered by Chiquita, Dole and their suppliers. Workers are exposed to pesticide and afflicted by a mystery illness that damages their kidneys. The gruelling work conditions may be to blame. Agriculture is... Find out more

REACH: halfway there or half-baked?

How is REACH doing five years after the Regulation went live? The European Commission and ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency, think things are going well. The trade unions are less enthused, and point to a string of failings in the new system that must be addressed in short order for the expected health benefits for workers, consumers and the... Find out more

Revision of the Carcinogens Directive: anything happening?

The key law that protects workers against carcinogens in the workplace has been under revision for close on a decade. The process has long been stymied by disagreements over extending occupational exposure limits and the scope of the law to substances harmful to reproductive health. Latterly, there has been some movement on exposure limits. An... Find out more

Berta Chulvi, Dolores Romano

Our hormonal system under chemical attack

We are surrounded in and out of the workplace by more than 1 500 chemicals that can interfere with our hormonal system. They are called endocrine disruptors. The damage they can do to human health is well documented and policies to eliminate these chemicals are wanted. The ability of some man-made chemicals to alter human hormonal systems has been... Find out more

Denis Grégoire

Labour inspectors have a REACH mountain to climb: "You can’t pretend to know it all"

Giulio Andrea Tozzi is a qualified chemist who has worked since 1981 in Genoa’s local health agency HSW Department, which carries out workplace inspections. He regularly gives trade unionists training in the prevention of occupational hazards and REACH. For three years in the 1990s he was a research officer with the Trade Union Technical Bureau... Find out more

Diego Alhaique

Murano glass: Italy’s pride plays the substitute card

Murano glass is part of Italy’s world-famed cultural heritage. The dexterity of generations of families of master glassmakers have kept one of the most exquisite forms of artistic craftsmanship alive on this island of the Venetian lagoon. Some producers, however, are ringing the changes on this know-how by replacing arsenic with alternatives that... Find out more

REACHing out to the world

The adoption of the Chemicals Regulation in 2007 has forced the EU’s main trading partners into action so that Europe’s doors do not slam shut on their chemical industries. In very different ways from one world region to the next. In the run-up debates to its adoption, REACH was variously portrayed as the death-knell of the European chemical... Find out more

Offloading the harm on China

China’s share of the global chemicals market has more than tripled in ten years, rising to 27% in 2011. The growth has come with major health and environmental impacts. The big picture is hard to recreate as the information is still classed as state secrets. The chemical industry is run by a handful of multinational mega-corporations. Its... Find out more

Nicolas Latteur

Collective action to transform work

Working conditions are getting worse and worse. The harm they are doing to employees makes health and safety at work critical. But rather than just tackling the work-related factors of particular diseases, what is needed is to act on the work relations that are behind the decline in working conditions. Taking ownership of knowledge and modes of... Find out more

Class, gender and ethnic relations on London’s building sites

How do you get into the building trades? It requires a high level of skill, mostly acquired informally. It is learned not so much in the classroom as through experience, from knowledge passed on by other workers, from the actual content of work kept at a discreet remove from what bosses think it is. It is an industry where job identities are nigh... Find out more

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Chemical hazards: state of play 6 years into REACH