- Occupational exposure limit value to be reduced
- Mandatory asbestos screening before renovation works can start
- Recognition of all known asbestos related diseases as occupational disease
The EU should do more to protect workers from asbestos, by reducing the allowed limit value and through more consistent screening of buildings, MEPs say in a resolution adopted today.
Recognizing that asbestos causes between 30000 and 90000 deaths per year in the EU, MEPs of the committee on Social Affairs and Employment call for an update of the current legislation on the protection of workers from asbestos, including an evaluation of different types of asbestos fibres and their adverse health effects. In line with the latest scientific advice, they call for a reduction of the current binding occupational exposure limit value (OEL) from 0,1 fibres/cm3 to 0,001 fibres/cm3.
Mandatory screening of buildings
MEPs argue that that the safe removal of asbestos from old buildings is an urgent task with a direct relation to the Commission’s plan to renovate 35 million buildings by 2030. In the context of “A Renovation Wave for Europe”, they plea for a mandatory asbestos screening, registering and removal of asbestos before any renovation works can start. They also underline that this should be supported by mobilising all available EU funding to mitigate the financial and administrative impact of this obligation and by introducing transition periods.
A comprehensive European strategy for asbestos
The resolution calls on the Commission to present a European strategy for the removal of all asbestos (ESRAA) which should include updating existing legislation. New legislative proposals should ensure the recognition of occupational diseases, including all known asbestos related diseases and minimum standards for the compensation of victims of asbestos related occupational diseases. Obligatory screening of buildings before sale or rent and the introduction of asbestos certificates for buildings constructed before 2005 should also be addressed in a legislative proposal, MEPs say.
The resolution was adopted by 47 votes in favour and 7 abstentions.
Asbestos is a highly dangerous carcinogenic agent used worldwide in building and other materials in many areas of our daily life. It causes between 30000 and 90 000 deaths per year in the Union, mostly through occupational cancer. Eighty percent of the occupational cancers recognized in Europe are asbestos-related. Asbestos is proven to be responsible for asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancers, the latter being the the most common occupational cancer in the EU.