Colloquium: Prevention of risks of carcinogens at work

Preventie van risico’s van kankerverwekkende stoffen op het werk / Prévention des risques liés aux substances cancérigènes au travail

The event is equipped with simultaneous translation between Dutch en French.

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. Occupational cancers can be prevented by avoiding risks of exposure to carcinogenic chemical agents in the workplace.

During this symposium, we look beyond the welfare legislation, European legislation on chemicals is also raised because this legislation can make a major contribution to the protection of workers. Further attention is paid to how prevention can be organized, on how to detect risks, and we show some good practices.

This conference is part of the roadmap on carcinogens. This is a European action scheme in which good practices are being promoted in the workplace. It is supported by the European umbrella unions and employers’ organizations and the relevant government departments.

Summary of the event

During the event, attention was paid to legislation and the national inspection campaign of Belgium on surface treatment of metals. Furthermore, the event zoomed in on several good practices, such as what has been done to minimize air pollution in Copenhagen airport and collective and personal protective equipment in a company dealing with the manipulation of cytostatics.

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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Event date
May 30, 2017
Event type
  • Conference, congress or forum
FOD Werkgelegenheid, Arbeid en Sociaal Overleg
Ernest Blerotstraat 1
1070 Brussel
Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue
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