Occupational Diseases



Exposure to chemicals in the workplace poses a risk to workers' health. Every year, about 50,000 cases of occupational diseases are reported in France. It is the role of everyone, managers, occupational physicians and hygienists as well as employees, to be vigilant in preventing occupational diseases.
 

Who is affected by the risks of occupational diseases?

 
Anyone, regardless of their employment contract (permanent, fixed-term, temporary, apprenticeship, internship, etc.), is affected. However, most recognised occupational diseases are linked to the handling of chemicals or working in a polluted atmosphere.
 
Some chemicals used in the workplace are not marketed to the public because they present a real health risk and require special precautions to be taken when using them.
 
Occupational diseases can occur shortly after exposure or long after exposure has stopped.
 
Employees, both men and women, should be informed of the health risks of exposure to Hazardous Chemical Agentand Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or Toxic to Reproduction chemicals.
 
In particular, workers of childbearing age should be informed of the risks to fertility from exposure to reprotoxics.
 

Which chemical agents are involved in occupational diseases?

 
Occupational exposure monitoring concerns Hazardous Chemical Agents (HCAs) and Carcinogenic, Mutagenic and Reprotoxic (CMR) substances.
 
Depending on the risks to human health, CMR agents are classified into 3 categories:
  •     Category 1A: proven CMR
  •     Category 1B: presumed CMR
  •     Category 2: Suspected CMR
 
The complete list of Hazardous Chemical Agents and Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or Toxic to Reproduction chemicals changes every year and is available from the Ministry of Labour and the INRS (Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité).
 
EXPOZOM proposes a complete range of analysis kits to measure occupational exposure to Hazardous Chemical Agents and Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or Toxic to Reproduction chemicals.
 

What is the role of occupational medicine and hygienists?

 
Occupational hygienists and occupational medicine are directly involved in the monitoring of occupational exposure. Their role is to advise and alert the employer to situations where employees are at risk.
 
During individual consultations, they assess the state of health and fitness for work of employees. They are informed about the chemical substances used in the company and at the employee's workplace.
 
They can prescribe occupational exposure measurements and are informed first of the results of these analyses in order to carry out the risk assessment in relation to the Occupational Exposure Limit Values (OELVs).
 
These values are established by the health authorities in each country and for each chemical:
 
  • STELV: Short Term Limit Value, dose not to be exceeded over a period of 15 minutes.
  • TWA: Mean Exposure Value, dose not to be exceeded over an 8-hour working day.

 

Why monitor occupational exposure to chemical agents?

 
Monitoring occupational exposure is a regulatory obligation under the Labour Code. It must be carried out regularly and once a year for Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or Toxic to Reproduction agents.
 
In the context of an occupational disease recognition procedure, it is necessary to provide proof of exposure and the duration of this exposure.
At the end of an employment contract, the employer must provide an "exposure sheet" listing the chemicals used, the description of the workstation and the length of time the employee has been exposed.
 
Unfortunately, many companies do not provide this document, often due to ignorance of the regulations in force.
 
The EXPOZOM solutions allow to prove the occupational exposure by regular measurements.
 
The CSE (social and economic committee), the trade union delegates and the staff delegates can help the employees to set up this monitoring.
 

Why is monitoring the occupational exposure of pregnant or breastfeeding women a priority?

 
The Labour Code prohibits the exposure of pregnant or breastfeeding women to certain chemical agents, in particular to reprotoxic substances which can have an impact on the development of the embryo and foetus and are transmitted via breast milk. 
 
It is essential for pregnant or breastfeeding women to exercise their right to withdraw from work if they are exposed to chemical agents and to contact the occupational health service as soon as possible.
 
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should be given special information on the risks of exposure to reprotoxins from the conception phase.

 

What are the responsibilities of employers?

 
The assessment and management of chemical risk is the responsibility of the employer. He can be held criminally liable for occupational diseases linked to the company's activities. In France, penalties of up to 3 years in prison and a €45,000 fine are provided for by law.
 
It is therefore the employer's responsibility to organise a risk assessment within his company, to inform and train his employees on professional risks and to monitor the exposure of his employees to chemical agents.
 
EXPOZOM's solutions allow to carry out this monitoring and to contribute to the improvement of working conditions in the company.
 
 

"Every occupational disease avoided is a saving for the company".

Occupational diseases also have a significant financial cost for the company. Indeed, the annual contributions of companies for occupational accidents and diseases are directly indexed to the number of declared pathologies.
 
Anticipating the occurrence of occupational diseases with EXPOZOM's solutions allows companies to prevent financial costs in addition to the risks on the penal level.

 

How to control occupational exposure?

 
With EXPOZOM, monitoring occupational exposure to chemical agents is now accessible and economically acceptable for employers and employees
 
Exposure is measured using passive ambient air sensors for gaseous substances of concern such as VOCs, solvents, glues, hydrocarbons, varnishes, paint, etc.
 
The sensor is exposed to the work environment for a period of 8 hours, either fixed to a support or worn by an operator. The results obtained are then compared to the Mean Exposure Values (MEL) to assess the health risks in relation to the work regulations.
 
In addition, exposure assessment can be carried out on the basis of a biological sample (blood, urine or hair). These measurements provide information on the actual exposure of the body to chemicals used in the workplace.
 
EXPOZOM proposes hair analysis to assess human exposure to heavy metals and organic substances such as pesticides, plasticisers and flame retardants.

"Atmospheric monitoring tells us about the amount of pollutants present in the atmosphere of workplaces, biological monitoring about the amount of pollutants that have entered the body of workers."

The EXPOZOM range of analysis kits allows for comprehensive and easy-to-implement monitoring of occupational exposure.
 

What substances does EXPOZOM test for and what occupational diseases are associated with them?

 
Occupational diseases are classified according to two schemes:
  •     General regime (RG): concerns anyone employed in the labour force and craftsmen, with the exception of agricultural professions.
  •     Agricultural regime (RA): specifically concerns agricultural professions.
 
 

Heavy metals and their associated occupational diseases:

 

  •     Lead
  •     Mercury
  •     Manganese
  •     Cadmium
  •     Arsenic
  •     Chromium
  •     Nickel
  •     Antimony
 
 

RG 1

Lead and lead compounds

RG 2

Occupational diseases caused by mercury and its compounds

RG 10

Ulcerations and dermatitis caused by chromic acid, alkali chromates and dichromates, zinc chromate and chromium sulphate

RG 20

Occupational diseases caused by arsenic and its mineral compounds

RG 20 BIS

Primary bronchial cancer caused by inhalation of arsenical dusts or fumes

RG 20 TER

Primary bronchial cancer caused by the inhalation of dusts or vapours containing gold-bearing arsenopyrites

RG 37

Occupational skin diseases caused by nickel oxides and salts

RG 37 BIS

Respiratory diseases caused by nickel oxides and salts

RG 37 TER

Cancers caused by nickel matte roasting operations

RG 39

Occupational diseases caused by manganese dioxide

RG 61

Occupational diseases caused by cadmium and its compounds

RG 61 BIS

Bronchopulmonary cancer caused by inhalation of cadmium-containing dusts or fumes

RG 73

Occupational diseases caused by antimony and its derivatives

RA 10

Diseases caused by arsenic and its mineral compounds

RA 12

Diseases caused by mercury and its compounds

RA 18

Diseases caused by lead and its compounds

RA 34

Ulcerations and dermatitis caused by chromic acid, alkali chromates and dichromates, zinc chromate and chromium sulphate

RA 42

Occupational diseases caused by cadmium and its compounds

 


Pesticides and their associated occupational diseases:

  •     Pentachlorophenol
  •     Lindane
  •     Organophosphates
 

RG 14

Conditions caused by nitro phenol derivatives, pentachlorophenol, pentachlorophenates and halogenated derivatives of hydroxybenzonitrile

RG 34

Anticholinesterase organophosphates, phosphoramides and heterocyclic anticholinesterase carbamates

RA 11

Anticholinesterase organophosphates, anticholinesterase phosphoramides and anticholinesterase carbamates.

RA 13

Conditions caused by nitro phenol derivatives, pentachlorophenol, pentachlorophenates and halogenated hydroxybenzonitrile derivatives

RA 13 BIS

Conditions caused by preparations combining pentachlorophenol (or pentachlorophenates) with lindane

RA 58

Parkinson's disease caused by pesticides

RA 59

Pesticide-induced haematological malignancies

 


Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs and their associated occupational diseases:

  •     Tetrachloroethane
  •     Benzene
  •     Halogenated hydrocarbons
  •     Carbon tetrachloride
  •     Formaldehyde
  •     Organic solvents
  •     Methyl methacrylate
 
 
 

RG 3

Occupational tetrachloroethane poisoning

RG 4

Haemopathies caused by benzene and anyone containing it

RG 9

Conditions caused by halogenated derivatives of aromatic hydrocarbons

RG 11

Occupational poisoning by carbon tetrachloride

RG 12

Occupational diseases caused by the following aliphatic halogenated hydrocarbons

RG 43

Conditions caused by formaldehyde and its polymers

RG 43 BIS

Cancerous conditions caused by formaldehyde

RG 84

Diseases caused by liquid organic solvents for professional use

RA 19

Haemopathies caused by benzene and anyone containing it

RA 19 BIS

Gastrointestinal and neurological disorders caused by benzene, toluene, xylenes and all products containing them

RA 21

Occupational diseases caused by the following halogenated derivatives of aliphatic hydrocarbons

RA 28

Conditions caused by formaldehyde and its polymers

RA 28 BIS

Cancerous conditions caused by formaldehyde and its polymers