Binding limit values for 22 new carcinogenic agents
Today, on 12 December 2019, the Finnish Government adopted a decree that sets binding limit values for 22 new carcinogenic agents. In addition, the previous limit values for two carcinogenic agents were revised. So far, only three substances have had binding limit values.
Carcinogenic agents refer to substances, mixtures and working methods that may cause cancer.
The aim is to reduce work-related cancer risks
The decree sets binding limit values, with the exception of asbestos, for the most important exposure agents identified as occupational carcinogens, such as quartz and diesel exhaust gases. Asbestos is subject to separate legislation.
The new binding limit values correspond to the limit values laid down by EU directives. In Finland, there are already equally stringent national occupational exposure limits (OEL) for nearly all of the carcinogenic agents included in the decree. The employer shall take into account the OEL values when assessing the risks of work and planning the working environment.
The decree repeals the Finnish Ministry of Labour Decision on Carcinogenic Hazards (838/1993). The decision defined the factors that must be registered in an employer-specific list and a national register of persons exposed to carcinogens at work. As from 1 January 2020, these factors are to be defined by a decree of the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on carcinogens and later by a new act, which is currently being discussed in Parliament.
Approximately 120,000 workers develop work-related cancer every year in the EU area, and an estimated 1,000 workers in Finland. Work-related cancers are mainly respiratory cancers.
The decree will enter into force on 1 January 2020.