Transport sector social partners campaign against toxic gases

The social partners in the transport and logistics sector recently launched an
information campaign to raise awareness about the hazards of exposure to toxic
gases among workers in contact with goods containers. When containers are
opened, workers can be exposed to toxic gases in two different cases: when the
goods transported have been treated with a gas or solid substance to prevent
rotting or to control vermin, and when goods contain substances, such as glues
or paints, that can release toxic substances.

In both cases, the critical phase occurs at the time the containers are opened,
because it is when the gases come into contact with oxygen that they become
particularly toxic.

According to the campaign's initiators*, one container in five originating
outside Europe contains toxic gases and 95% of containers are labelled
insufficiently or not at all. The containers concerned are primarily those
transported by sea. International regulations impose the labelling of
containers treated by fumigation, but they are apparently being very poorly

Workers exposed to these gases suffer from the following conditions: headaches
and nausea that can result in memory loss and damage to the nervous system,
with death occurring in extreme cases. Over the medium and longer term,
relatively serious chronic diseases are to be feared, in particular cancers.

The campaign - "Toxic gases: don't get caught!" - follows on from the conclusion
in September 2010 of a collective labour agreement that makes provision for the
mandatory inclusion of this problem in the annual action plan on health at the
workplace for companies in the transport and logistics sector. The campaign
being conducted in Belgium is inspired by initiatives implemented in the

More information: - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work