The Europe-wide trade union body ETUC has welcomed a new diesel exhaust fumes exposure standard. It says 3.6 million workers in the EU are at risk of exposures, adding the new European occupational exposure limit will prevent at least 6,000 deaths per year from lung cancer.
Esther Lynch, ETUC’s confederal secretary, said the new standard was in response to a major awareness and lobbying effort by workers and their trade unions. “Exposure to diesel exhaust is a significant workplace killer. Unfortunately many employers see diesel exposure as being something they can do nothing about. This is not the case and unions will work with employers to ensure that these legally binding limits are complied with,” she said.
The compromise agreed on diesel engines exhaust emission (DEEE) means exposures will be subject to the more stringent requirements of the carcinogens and mutagens directive. A binding occupational exposure limit (BOEL) will be set at 0.05 mg/m³, with a transition period of two years for most jobs and an additional five years for underground mining and tunnel construction.
ETUC’s Esther Lynch said “the compromise is a victory for the European trade union movement. It is a step forward in our long-standing and on-going battle for eliminating work-related cancers but existing EU legislation still needs many improvements. One of the important challenges is to include reprotoxic substances. We urge the Commission to propose a legislative initiative in 2019”.
In 2017, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits (SCOEL) recommended a much more stringent diesel exhaust standard of 0.02mg/m3.