Roadmap on carcinogens

Taking action on work-related cancer

Cancer is estimated to be the leading cause of work-related deaths in the EU. It is clear that more can be done to reduce the number of cases of occupational cancer, and that’s why, on 25 May 2016, six European organisations signed a covenant committing them to a voluntary action scheme to raise awareness of the risks arising from exposures to carcinogens in the workplace and exchange good practices.

The partners are:

The covenant was renewed on 28 November 2019 and was signed by Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the German Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs, who thanked Austria and the Netherlands for their commitment, in addition to the four European partners (European Commission, EU-OSHA, ETUC and Business Europe).

The signatories to the Covenant have drawn up a Roadmap for the scheme. Member States, social partners, companies, research organisations and other organisations across Europe (and even beyond) are encouraged to participate.

Read the new covenant to see exactly what the partners have committed to.

Reinforcing prevention in companies

Some of the activities to be developed and implemented during the scheme are:

  • Providing employers with information about limit values and raising the awareness of employers and employees about the risks of exposure to carcinogens, in particular in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • Providing employers with information about risk assessment methods and possible risk-management measures
  • Influencing behaviour and culture on the shop floor
  • Collecting, describing and making accessible a number of specific, cost-efficient good practices, feasible for SMEs, in relation to particular carcinogenic substances
  • Member States and organisations will be encouraged to offer to take on a mentoring or partnership role by leading on a specific part of the action scheme, for example around a specific group of carcinogens or a particular sector

Smaller businesses with limited experience of good practices, in particular, are likely to benefit from the scheme. It is also hoped that greater awareness will lead to innovations in production processes, resulting in the carcinogenic substances being replaced with safer alternatives.

Taking part in the roadmap

The six organisations call upon everyone to take measures, implement good practices and raise awareness to prevent exposure to carcinogens.

The concept of good practices is to be interpreted broadly: all initiatives that support workers and employers to protect against carcinogenic substances at work. Examples include: technical measures, awareness raising activities, risk assessment tools, sectoral industry approaches, prevention culture measures, cooperation between companies, cooperation between Member States, research institutes or economic sectors, etc.

Organisations are invited to announce their (planned) initiatives and/or willingness to cooperate with others as part of the Roadmap.

To submit your initiative please visit

The way forward

EU-OSHA is helping to promote the scheme and will support the partners in organising a yearly event to raise awareness and assess progress. In addition, EU-OSHA’s Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2018-19 is focused on the topic of dangerous substances, tying in with the Roadmap and its objectives.

The scheme sets out a programme of actions that will involve various EU Council Presidencies, the start coinciding with the Netherlands in 2016.

Further information

Consult the Roadmap for full details of the planned joint efforts to reduce occupational cancer.

OSHwiki features related articles on:

EU-OSHA annual roadmap event - A+A 18 October 2017 – Seminar online summary

Proceedings of the Finnish EU Presidency Conference, 27-28 November 2019

Proceedings of the Amsterdam Conference on work-related cancer, 23-25 May 2016