The Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive – What we need for a global EU strategy against work related cancer

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(29 August 2018) EPSU shares the view of ETUC concerning the different elements needed for a global EU strategy against work related cancer. We want to insist on the need to provide better prevention for more than 12.7 million healthcare workers in Europe, including millions of nurses, who are exposed to carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic hazardous drugs.  According to EU-OSHA, these drugs represent the most dangerous chemical risk factors in healthcare and some of the most hazardous chemicals ever developed. 

Recent studies have shown that hospital workers who handle these drugs are three times more likely to develop malignancy.

Despite this, a replacement for these drugs is not technically possible. Employers who come into contact with these drugs must use a closed technological system.

However, while patients receive concentrated doses of a limited number of cytotoxic drugs for a defined period of time, healthcare workers may be exposed to small doses of a broad range of hazardous drugs over decades, with some workers being exposed every workday, year after year.

Amendments tabled by the rapporteur in CMD3 on 29 June 2018 state that any legislative changes to include hazardous drugs should not prejudice patients’ health or decrease the efficiency of their treatment.

EPSU supports the amendments proposed by MEP Laura Agea and has sent a letter to the members of the environment committee.