Background: European directives stipulate that French employers take all available measures to reduce the use of carcinogenic, mutagenic, and reprotoxic (CMR) chemicals. Our study explores the trends for the various control measures that are available to employees exposed to CMR agents, at two time points (2003 and 2010).
Methods: Our study assessed data from the 2003 and the 2010 French national cross-sectional survey of occupational hazards (SUMER). The availability of collective protections (source-based controls and general ventilation) and personal protective equipment (PPE) was explored. Trends in the availability of protective measures were studied using multilevel logistic regressions.
Results: Exposure situations without any protective measures decreased considerably between 2003 and 2010 (29.9% versus 17.9%, respectively). The increase in the proportion of exposure situations involving source-based controls (e.g. an isolation chamber and local exhaust ventilation) was, however, much less. Multiple regression analysis showed that the protection strategies depended on the job characteristics (e.g. work schedules, the employment contract, and the occupation) as well as the size of the company. There were noticeable changes between 2003 and 2010. For example, differences in protections available between full-time and part-time workers disappeared in the 7-year period, whereas those between executives/managers and other employees increased, as did the gaps between large and small companies.
Conclusions: Although the overall increase in exposure situations involving protective measures masks a number of differences in exposure between employee categories, it is a step in the right direction. Source-based controls appeared to be implemented more for exposures with the longest durations, and PPE was very often combined with collective protections, which is what is currently recommended.
Keywords: carcinogens; occupational exposure; protection measures.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Occupational Hygiene Society.