Health at work: MEPs commit to a social transition that is fair to workers

On Wednesday 7 February 2024, the European Parliament adopted the trialogue agreement on the revision of two directives designed to strengthen the protection of workers against hazardous substances (the Chemical Agents Directive and the Carcinogens, Mutagens and Reprotoxins Directive).

This agreement illustrates the European Parliament's commitment to a green transition that leaves no-one behind. On the one hand, it will protect millions of workers, particularly in the battery sector, but also in building renovation. On the other hand, it provides a solution for people who, because of their career, could have been excluded from their job because their blood lead level was too high. With this revision, they will be able to keep their jobs while benefiting from reinforced medical surveillance.

During the negotiations, the MEPs also managed to take account of concerns from the field by including a transitional period, thereby responding to the fears of some sectors, such as battery recycling, but also our cultural patrimony. This solution will give SMEs the time they need to make the necessary adjustments to protect workers' health.

It is also a deal that respects women's personal choices and their full participation in the labour market. As no level of lead is deemed safe for the unborn child, women of childbearing age will receive special attention, without introducing discriminatory measures that would have excluded them from the workforce.

Finally, MEPs succeeded in incorporating into the final text a necessary first step, giving the European Commission a mandate to begin work on protecting workers from all endocrine disruptors.