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03.03.2014

Swiss Unions call for an extension of the limitation period for nanomaterials

The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB) classifies nanomaterials as an emerging risk for employees and employers and calls for an extension of the limitation period. Furthermore, the SGB states that insufficient control activities of the insurance carrier (SUVA) and a lack of information to workers could lead to state liability lawsuits against the federal government.

Due to the increasing use of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials in many production processes and products, the clarification of the risks is of great importance. The SGB considers nanomaterials an emerging risks for employees, employers and the state. In a recently published article, SGB secretary general Luca Cirigliano discussed legal aspects regarding nanomaterials, as well as the necessary adjustments to the legal basis to account for emerging risks. The long-term consequences of emerging risks are hard to evaluate. Therefore and to avoid consequential damages, preventive measures and transparent information are needed, according to the author. The precautionary principle, for example, offers a good way to deal with emerging risks. Considering the background of the long period of latency of asbestos, an extension of the limitation period is required. In addition, comprehensive mandatory labeling of all nanomaterials should be introduced in the workplace to guarantee that adequate information is provided to workers. Thereby, the preventive and protective measures in the workplace could be improved significantly.

Source: Cirigliano, L. (2013). Nano-Materialien als Emerging Risk. Sicherheit & Recht, S. 187-193.

Image Source: UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Wikimedia Commons

Read the full article here (in German).

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