European Health and Safety Campaign on Managing Dangerous Substances

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) is running a campaign, called Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances in 2018 and 2019.

What Are ‘Dangerous Substances’?

‘Dangerous substances’ can exist in the state of a solid, liquid or gas. Workers may be exposed to dangerous substances by inhalation, skin contact, penetration or ingestion.

These substances have the potential to affect the health of workers by causing a substantial proportion of occupational diseases, including:

  • Respiratory diseases;
  • Harm to internal organs;
  • Skin diseases; and
  • Workplace cancers.

According to the campaign’s website, 38% of European enterprises have reported the existence of ‘dangerous’ chemical or biological substances in their workplaces.[i] Sectors with particularly high levels of exposure to ‘dangerous substances’, include:

  • Agriculture;
  • Forestry and fishing;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Construction;
  • Water and electricity supply;
  • Social and health care;
  • Transport; and
  • Waste and recycling.

The aims of the campaign are to tackle the problems posed by ‘dangerous substances’ in the workplace, by:[ii]

  1. Raising awareness of the importance and relevance of managing ‘dangerous substances’, by providing facts and figures on exposures and their impact on workers.
  2. Promoting risk assessment, elimination and substitution, and a hierarchy of prevention measures
  3. Raising awareness of the risks linked to exposure to carcinogens at work by committing to the ‘Roadmap on Carcinogens’;
  4. Targeting groups of workers with specific needs and higher levels of risk; and
  5. Increasing awareness of policy developments and the legislative framework.

A range of e-tools and publications are available through the campaign, applying to specific work operations, specific groups of substances and certain work sectors. These provide support and advice for effectively managing ‘dangerous substances’ in the workplace.[iii]

One case study describes how the manager of a small company designed and installed a new exhaust ventilation system to reduce exposure to diesel fumes.[iv]

The campaign website also provides information on legislation currently in force, which is relevant to ‘dangerous substances’ in the workplace[v].

So far, the campaign has amassed over 100 official campaign and media partners.[vi]


[i] What is the issue?  Healthy Workplaces MANAGE DANGEROUS SUBSTANCES 2018-19. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. (Accessed 7 September 2018).

[ii] Campaign Guide. 27 November 2017 (Accessed 7 September 2018)

[iii] Dangerous substances e-tool. (Accessed 7 September 2018)

[iv] Case studies: Preventing exposure to diesel engine emissions and other exhaust gases during car inspection. 27 June 2018 (Accessed 7 September 2018)

[v] Legislation (Accessed 7 September 2018)

[vi] More than 100 partners commit to the Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances campaign. 26 June 2018 (Accessed 7 September 2018)