Workers are exposed to dangerous substances in many European workplaces. Such
exposures are more common than most people realise and, in fact, may occur in
almost all workplaces. This presents major safety and health concerns.
A dangerous substance is any solid, liquid or gas that has the potential to
cause damage to the safety or health of workers. Exposure can occur through
inhalation, skin penetration or ingestion.
Workplace exposures to dangerous substances are linked to acute and long-term
health issues, including:
- respiratory diseases (e.g. asthma, rhinitis, asbestosis and silicosis)
- harm to inner organs, including the brain and the nervous system
- skin irritation and diseases
- occupational cancers (e.g. leukaemia, lung cancer, mesothelioma and cancer of
the nasal cavity).
In addition, the presence of dangerous substances can put workers at risk of
fire, explosion, acute poisoning and suffocation.
EU-OSHA's second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks
(ESENER-2) reveals that dangerous substances are most prevalent in certain
sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing and construction. However, workers
in all sectors are potentially at risk of exposure to dangerous substances. In
fact, overall, 38 % of European enterprises report potentially dangerous
chemical or biological substances in their workplaces. Therefore, it is vital
that the risks are identified and managed.
EU-OSHA's updated website section provides essential information on dangerous
substances at the workplace. It covers the main legislation, explains its
principles and provides tips on how to manage dangerous substances at work.
It also includes sections on carcinogens, biological agents, and emerging risks
- and provides many useful links to further information for workers and
AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work