Stop Cancer At Work

Campaign Launch

We are pleased to announce that on 13th October 2020 the Stop Cancer at Work campaign officially launched. Read our press statement here.

Cancer is now the leading cause of work-related deaths in the EU with over 100,000 cancer deaths each year. From nurses to cleaners, workers across the EU are being put at risk by being exposed to deadly carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic substances in their place of work.

Stop Cancer at Work is working to eradicate occupational exposure to deadly substances and put an end to work-related deaths caused by cancer.

We are raising awareness and building support to ensure the European Commission is taking the appropriate action to protect workers across the EU.

The time for debate is over, the time for action to protect those who protect us is now.

Show your Support and Sign Our Petition Here

About the Campaign

The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), European Public Services Union (EPSU) and European Biosafety Network (EBN) – with other partners including the European Federation of Nurses Associations (EFN), Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), European Specialist Nurses Organisation (ESNO), and European Association Pharmacy Technicians (EAPT) – have joined forces to launch the campaign Stop Cancer at Work.

The campaign is focused on getting the European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit to act to stop cancer at work by proposing or accepting legislation in the 2020 revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD) to include carcinogenic cytotoxic drugs which cause cancer, such as leukaemia, in healthcare workers and patients in Appendix I, and reprotoxins, which harm all workers’ fertility, in the title of the CMD.

To bring about this change in legislation, the campaign will demonstrate the widespread, pan-European support for legislation to stop cancer at work through the distribution of an online petition and available on the campaign’s website. The petition will then be presented to the EU Commissioner, Parliament and Council for immediate action.

Keep up to date with the campaign by following us on social media:
Twitter: @Stopcancer_
Facebook: @stopcanceratwork

Georgina’s Story

Georgina Angusto Zambrano began her career as urology nurse in 1967 at the age of 17 in Barcelona. By the year 2000, Georgina was diagnosed with bladder cancer. For the next five years she fought in the Catalan Supreme Court to prove that her illness had been caused by the handling of cytostatic drugs during her career as a nurse. Georgina’s case was a landmark victory for thousands of workers across the EU who are at risk of developing cancer because of exposure to harmful substances at work. Despite the lack of institutional support, Georgina has now spoken at the European Parliament and World Health Organisation to raise awareness about the harm many workers face across the EU.

Read more about her story here:

Reprotoxins & Firefighters

Protecting your reproductive health:

The consequences of occupational exposure to harmful substances is not limited to cancer alone. Certain chemicals can cause a whole host of damaging effects on the human body, such as reprotoxins, which interfere with the reproductive system.

There is a wide range of reproductive health problems caused by workplace exposure to reprotoxins: reduced fertility or infertility, erectile dysfunction, menstrual cycle and ovulatory disorders, miscarriage, stillbirth, babies born too soon or too small, birth defects, child developmental disorders, to name a few. Occupational exposure to reprotoxins is especially prevalent in the healthcare sector, where workers are exposed to harmful treatments, such as chemotherapy.

As with cancer, we believe that people should be able to go to work without the worry that their job is damaging their reproductive health. Protections are already afforded to protect consumers from reprotoxins and we believe workers deserve the same. That is why this campaign is working to ensure that workers across the EU are not at risk of occupational exposure to reprotoxic substances.

What is the European Commission doing about it?

So far, the European Council and Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on proposals to update the carcinogens and mutagens Directive (mentioned above) with the possibility of including reprotoxic substances. The Commission was due to assess this during the first quarter of 2019, but the 31st March deadline came and went without action.

What should be done?

We want reprotoxins to be included in the title of the CMD so that employers have to ensure that workers are protected from reprotoxic drugs in the same way they are from carcinogens and mutagens. For this to happen we are campaigning to demand that the European Commission bring back the report from 2019, become familiar with the recent developments in scientific evidence, and submit a proposal to legislate this Autumn.

As we have seen, the European Commission is reluctant to act so we need your support to show that workers, whether they be cleaners or doctors, deserve protection from reproxtins and other harmful substances. Let your voice be heard by signing our petition, today.


We are campaigning to protect all workers whose job it is to care for us, including firefighters. Not only do firefighters put their lives at imminent risk when putting out fires, but their lives are also threatened by the repeated exposure to burning chemicals over the length of their careers.

Disastrous events such as the incident at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, have opened our eyes to the broader threats posed to the health and safety of firefighters. In the years since 2001, many firefighters who risked their lives that day have struggled with long lasting illnesses, careers ending early and many have even taken their own lives. In Europe, too many firefighters are developing cancer and other illnesses from being exposed to harmful substances whilst doing their job.

What can be done? 

The European framework for preventing and eliminating work-related cancer – the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive – needs to be strengthened. Several Member States already support the need to improve the legislation, but more needs to be done to counterbalance the economic driven incentives of employers and to reduce social inequality in terms of cancers and other diseases caused by exposure to chemical substances.

It is crucial that public employers organize health checks for firefighters beyond the periods in which they are exposed to carcinogens. In fact, the latency period between exposure and the development of a cancerous disease may last many decades. Timely detection can save countless lives. Measures should ensure that exposure to CMRs is eliminated or reduced as far as possible, and that firefighters are sufficiently protected before, during and after incidents.

Show your Support and Sign Our Petition Here

Resource Library

Understanding the different types of legislation, the varying decision-making bodies, and the procedural steps which lead to change can be complicated and confusing. Below you can find further information to download about the issue of cancer in the workplace including reports and case studies which highlight the severity of the problem.  

If you have any further questions do not hesitate to get in contact.

  • Further protection for workers and healthcare professionals approved by European Parliament

    Stop Cancer at Work welcomes European Parliament’s further protection for workers and healthcare professionals from exposure to hazardous medicinal products
  • Protecting health workers from hazardous products

    There is more clarity about hazardous medicinal products but awareness still needs to be raised to protect workers
  • Online workshops: Guidance document for the safe management of hazardous medicinal products at work

    Guidelines for managing hazardous medicinal products (HMPs) will be published by December 2022
  • SCAW Statement 16/12/2021

    Stop Cancer at Work Campaign welcomes progress made in protecting workers from cancer and reproductive problems at work
  • ANSES Expert Advice Summary

    This document summarises the work of the Expert Committee on “Health reference values” and the Working Group on “Carcinogenic processes”
  • SCAW Statement 30/06/2021

    Stop Cancer at Work Campaign calls on European Commission to approve legislation now to protect workers and patients from getting cancer
  • SCAW Briefing Note 26/05/21

    Our briefing note on the inclusion of hazardous drugs and reprotoxins in the CMD
  • SCAW Statement 27/04/21

    SCAW’s statement on the European Parliament’s confirmation of the need for immediate legislative action to help prevent workers contracting cancer at work.
  • SCAW HMP Report Statement

    Statement on the European Commission’s recently published HMPs report
  • SCAW Statement on expansion of CMD

    A statement on the EU Parliament’s vote to include hazardous drugs and reprotoxins in the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive
  • European Parliament Employment Committee Exchange of Views on CMD4

    An overview of the European Parliament Employment Committee Exchange of Views on CMD4 on 23rd February 2021
  • Basta Magazine news investigation into exposure to hazardous substances

    A news story from on exposure to hazardous substances
  • Press statement for launch of Stop Cancer at Work Campaign

    Press statement for launch of Stop Cancer at Work Campaign
  • Campaign launch media coverage

    Media coverage of the launch of the Campaign.
  • ETUI Assessment – Chemical risks: are workers the big losers of the European strategy?

    Consumers are the clear winners from this strategy, but workers look to lose out.
  • ETUI Briefing Note – HMP & CMD4

    ETUI on Inclusion of Hazardous Medicinal Products within the scope of the CMD.
  • ETUI Briefing Note – Reprotoxins & CMD4

  • EU’s Beating Cancer plan

    Read a summary of the EU’s initiative to beat cancer