(28 April 2017) EPSU’s Firefighters Network met in Brussels today on this International Workers’ Memorial Day. This is the day when we remember the 168,000 people who die each year from work-related accidents and diseases. And recognise that over 3 million people report accidents at work each year.
Many firefighters are developing cancers and unfortunately losing their lives due to their constant exposure to hazardous materials, as they go about their day-to-day work.
Today’s meeting addressed the need to strengthen the European framework to prevents and eliminate work-related cancer, through amending the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive.
According to Matt Wrack, Secretary General of FBU, ‘there is clearly a need to improve existing legislation, specifically to define binding occupational exposure limit values (BOELs), for a number of substances’. The network believes European legislative framework has to change in order to counterbalance the current weakness of the economic incentives of employers and reduce social inequality in terms of cancers and other diseases.
The network is campaigning to have the Directive2004/37/EC amended in terms of extending the scope of application to re-protoxic substances. Member States should also be encouraged to organise systems of life-long health surveillance programmes, which would help deters early stage cancers among workers, such as firefighters, who face constant exposure to hazardous materials.
The group also further discussed the need for firefighters to adopt good behavior and best practice in order to better prevent occupational cancers. On this International Workers Memorial Day.