Belgium focuses on the prevention of risks of carcinogens at work

Cancer is the leading cause of work-related deaths in the European Union. The diagnosis of these cancers is usually made many years after exposure has taken place, which complicates the matter. The good news is that occupational cancers can be prevented by avoiding risks of exposure to carcinogenic chemical agents in the workplace. How to organize prevention?

During an academic seminar on the 30th of May in Belgium, attention was paid to exactly this phenomenon. Different legal frameworks, such as the European welfare legislation as the European legislation on chemicals were discussed. Another focus area was how to detect risks and the exchange of good practices. All good practices will be published on this website, so stay tuned!

Too bad you’ve missed it? Don’t worry, we’ve summarized the main findings of the event below:

On legislation

  • An overview of relevant legislation both on Belgian as European level was given (i.a. REACH 1907/2006).
  • Correct labeling of products is of the utmost importance.
  • Chemical safety assessment of substances needs to be done thoroughly and in the entire life course of products, including recycling.

How risks for possible cancers can be detected, by prof. Dr. Lode Godderis

  • Shortcomings of conventional deductive risk analysis can be compensated with inductive methods.
  • Several alert systems exist worldwide. Safety representatives in companies have an important role to play and need to be critical about new cases.
  • In Belgium assumed but previously new links between health and work can be reported to the online platform SIGNAAL.

Belgian inspection campaign on surface treatment of metals in 2015

  • The inspection campaign had a focus on electrotype companies with specific attention to Chromium VI.
  • An important outcome of the campaign is that 3 out of 4 companies are aware of Chromium VI in the REACH-authorization list. This means the REACH-authorization process could work as an important catalysator for substitution of chemicals in companies.
  • Companies didn’t violate the Belgium limit value on Chromium VI.
  • Only 1 out of 2 companies had a written risk analysis on chemical agents.
  • Companies take too little measurements on chemicals.
  • Storage of dangerous substances wasn’t correctly handled in 25% of the visited companies.
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