On the road to zero – actions from the labour inspectorate on CMR substances

Introduction and problem setting

Hundreds of thousands employees are exposed to hazardous, and sometimes even carcinogenic substances nowadays. Some industries have already taken the necessary measures to eliminate the exposure to carcinogens. But even though companies are trying to eliminate the use of all carcinogenic, mutagenic and reproductive toxic (CMR) substances, this has not been fully executed yet.


The inspectorate of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment in The Netherlands developed a national campaign called “On the road to zero” to eliminate the exposure to carcinogens at work. The campaign is focused on making people aware about the dangers of working with carcinogens, as well as on starting the conversation about solutions to this problem. The inspectorate supports companies that want to diminish the usage of CMR-substances, and discusses with suppliers how to work on a healthier and safer work environment.


Generally, the reduction of exposure to carcinogens has become one of the most important issues that governments, industries and employee unions discuss. This results in more awareness.
The inspectorate and the FNV (Federal Dutch Trade Union) have developed apps for employees containing information about working with CMR-substances. The inspectorate has also developed a self-inspection tool, “Self-Inspection Hazardous Substances”, that helps employers to easily monitor which hazardous substances are present in their company and which safety measures are in place. An update for that website will be made as well with more information about CMR-substances. Twice a year the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment publishes a list of current CMR-holding substances. It is already mandatory for companies that, when this is technically and practically possible, all CMR-substances are replaced by safer alternatives. Also this website, the European Roadmap on Carcinogens, has been an initiative of the inspectorate in collaboration with other EU-member states.

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Netherlands Labour Authority
The Netherlands