In order to benchmark the international mainstream trend of sustainable development by 2030, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) determined to lead enterprises to promote proactive workplace health and safety practices by launching the Roadmap for Occupational Cancer Prevention Initiative. Commencing in 2022, MOL will implement special supervision and inspection for business units that operate "Class 1 carcinogenic substances," "Class 1 germ cell mutagenic substances" as well as "Class 1 reproductive toxic substances" (hereinafter referred to as CMR substances), and provide on-site counseling to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to jointly improve preventive measures against health hazards in workplaces.
MOL indicated that CMR substances have chronic health hazards even there is no significant immediate impact on physical health, but long-term exposure may lead to occupational diseases and even affect the health of our next generation. Employers and workers must not neglect the harms lightly. At present OSH Act, a total of 254 priority management chemicals have been announced as CMR substances, and according to records, there are about 2,000 operating factories and over 60,000 potentially exposed workers in the chemical operations as declared by responsible employers. These CMR substances, depending on their characteristics and industrial needs, are widely used in various operations. For example, in order to have a bright metallic color, CMR substances containing such as chromium, nickel or cadmium are used in the processing, and workers may suffer from occupational lung cancer after long-term exposure. For example, lead batteries commonly used in automobiles, whether in the manufacturing or recycling process, workers may be exposure to high concentrations of lead dust if there is no proper protection, resulting in not only damage the nervous system, but also cause impaired fertility and adverse pregnancy outcomes (e.g., premature birth, miscarriage). Epidemic cases have demonstrated the importance of reducing exposure to hazardous chemicals for worker’s protection.
MOL has included CMR substance exposure prevention as a key focus of occupational disease prevention, using image recognition AI technology to apply chemical substance safety databases, hazard pictogram label identification and verification tools, and enhance the completeness of occupational exposure-related data. Competent authority and entrusted professional organizations will continue to adjust the comprehensive occupational cancer prevention strategy on a rolling basis, taking into account international advanced management practices, to help reduce the exposure risks of workers caused by CMR substances. At the same time, employers are urged to prioritize the selection of alternative substances to prevent CMR substances from entering the workplace at source, and to control hazard exposure through process improvement, engineering control and personal protection, and to implement an effective management system in the spirit of the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) process.