will help companies to ensure a more efficient management of chemicals and to substitute hazardous substances

Most dangerous substances and sectors at risk in the EU


The study, commissioned by EU-OSHA and carried out by the Institute of Occupational Medicine, identified the dangerous substances and sectors that pose the greatest risk to workers in the EU.

The study collected data from a number of publicly available sources. The research identified the top 5 sectors at risk:

  1. Trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
  2. Manufacturing of chemicals and other chemical products
  3. Services to buildings and landscape activities
  4. Manufacturing of rubber and plastic products
  5. Specialised construction activities

The research also identified the most important dangerous substances:

  • Silica: affects a broad range of industries and affects a large number of workers, including those involved in construction, mining and manufacturing.
  • Asbestos: presents a hazard to construction and building workers. Although prohibited in new building materials, asbestos is still present in existing materials and workers may not be aware of its presence.
  • Solvents: workers in many industries are at risk of being exposed to solvents and emissions.
  • Non-infectious biological agents: exposure particularly occurs in the waste recycling industry. Exposure is difficult to control and currently there are no established occupational exposure limits.
  • Wood dust: a process-generated substance classified as a carcinogen, wood dust affects large numbers of workers handling or processing.

The research also looked at the prevalence of exposure of the EU workforce. Health workers, construction workers, residential care workers, maintenance workers and mechanics were found to be most likely to be exposed to dangerous substances.

The full report is available here.

Prepared according to Healthy-workplaces.eu