Is it possible to improve the security of Polish employees? The European Week of Safety and Health at Work is in progress

On October 22, the European Week for Safety and Health at Work will begin, organized as part of the information campaign “Hazardous substances under control”. In many countries of our continent, experts will wonder how to increase security in companies, institutions and factories. The conference “Everything you would like to know about chemistry”a conference will take place in Lodz.

The report on the opinion of physical and mental and physical workers “Safety at Work in Poland 2016” shows that work safety is of great importance to Poles. Big enough that over a half of respondents would prefer to take a less paid job, but guarantee a higher level of security.

On the other hand, risks in the work environment continue to increase. These include, among others, chemical substances, which are one of the most common harmful factors in the work environment. In the European Union, there are about 30,000 of them in general use. In 2016, as many as 6,800 employees worked in Poland in the conditions of exceeding the maximum permissible concentrations (NDS) of harmful chemicals.

According to research, 38% of European companies report the presence of potentially hazardous chemical or biological substances in their workplaces. Exposure to carcinogens in the work environment results in 80,000 deaths and costs 2.4 billion euros each year. According to the estimates of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the EU, carcinogens are the cause of most fatal occupational diseases in the EU.

The European Union was interested in the problem of work safety, which prepared for 2018-2019 a European-wide information campaign on ‘Hazardous substances under control’. As part of it, the European Week for Safety and Health at Work began on October 22.

– More and more employees in Poland are exposed to chemicals in workplaces. This problem concerns not only large enterprises and industry, but also companies providing cleaning services, beauty and hairdressing salons, and health care. On the other hand, the awareness of the harmful effects of chemicals and the knowledge of how to limit them are still too low. Many employers still have problems with the proper identification of chemical threats. Meanwhile, over 70% of occupational diseases result from professional exposure to dangerous chemicals and dust – says Dr Małgorzata Pośniak from the Central Institute for Labor Protection – National Research Institute, which coordinates the campaign in Poland.

As part of the European Week for Safety and Health at Work in Łódź, a conference entitled “Everything you would like to see about chemistry” will take place on October 23. It is addressed to people interested in the problem of the interaction of chemical substances on the human body. Speakers are research workers, specialists and practitioners.

– Positive is the fact that Polish employers and employees more often resort to personal protective equipment. The report from the opinion poll of employers “Safety at Work in Poland 2017” shows that the most frequently chosen means used in the SME sector are protective clothing, safety shoes and gloves. It is worth remembering, however, that this is not always sufficient, especially in contact with nanomaterials, microorganisms, pathogenic substances, radiochemical and chemical carcinogenic substances. In this case, it is better to use specialized gloveboxes, designed for processes carried out in the mode of operator protection – explains Dr Krzysztof Skupień, managing director of the Hoger, partner of the campaign “Hazardous substances under control”.

The honorary patronage over the campaign “Dangerous substances under control” in Poland is covered by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy, the strategic patron is the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate and the Institute of Occupational Medicine. Professor J. Nofera.

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