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A breakthrough in healthcare worker safety: New hazardous drug guidelines in the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027

October 4, 2021

Healthcare workers (HCWs) dedicate their lives to the health of their patients. However, the healthcare environment as a workplace poses unique threats to the health of the HCWs themselves. 

Hazardous drug exposure is of the utmost urgency to address; studies show that 12.7 million HCWs are potentially exposed to carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic drugs in Europe every year.1 Beyond its threat in the healthcare workplace, cancer is the leading cause of all occupational deaths in Europe, claiming 100,000 lives annually.2

What is being done to address this?

The European Commission recently published the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027 which included a detailed action plan to reduce hazardous drug exposure among healthcare workers. 

Within the framework, the European Commission states that they will:3

  • Identify a priority list of reprotoxic drugs to be addressed through their relevant directives by the end of 2021.
  • Provide updated guidelines, including training, protocols, surveillance and monitoring, for protecting workers against exposure to hazardous medicinal products by 2022. 

As well, they call upon member states to:3

  • Actively address hazards in the healthcare sector by putting in place and implementing safe working procedures and providing appropriate training.
  • Provide improved guidance and training in risk assessment and prevention.

The European Commission specifically invites social partners to develop a guidance for the healthcare sector focusing on HCW protection from the exposure to hazardous medicinal products to pave the way for the development of the interactive online risk assessment tool (OiRA), to be created in collaboration with the European Occupational Safety and Health Association (EU-OSHA).3 

To learn more about the recent developments in hazardous drug exposure and HCW safety, download the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027.

 


References

  1. European Federation of Nurses (EFN). Preventing the exposure of nurses and health professionals to hazardous drugs. The Parliament Magazine. Published on 20 June 2017. Accessed on September 15, 2021 at https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/news/article/preventing-the-exposure-of-nurses-and-health-professionals-to-hazardous-drugs. 
  2. Takala J. Eliminating occupational cancer. Ind Health. 2015 Jul;53(4): 307-309. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4551060/.
  3. European Commission. EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027. Published on June 28, 2021. Accessed on August 10, 2021 at: https://eu-osh-framework-2021.osha.europa.eu/upload_ftp/nirestream/euoshahybrid/pdf/eu-strategic-framework-on-safety-and-health-2021-27-pdf.pdf?updated=1624886105.

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