Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

  • European Commission
  • Programmes
  • Fifth medical research programme (ECSC) "Protection of workers against risks arising from work in the coal and steel industries", 1988-1992

Previous programme


Programme funding

EUR 12 million

Official Journal Reference

C 47 of 1988-02-19

Legislative Reference

To respond to the needs of steel and coal workers by improving the physical and psychological conditions in which they work, by helping the ECSC industries to implement preventive measures in relation to health at the workplace, and by promoting projects to use the results of the earlier medical research programmes.


Pursuant to Article 55 of the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the Commission is required to promote technical and economic research relating to occupational safety in the coal and steel industries. The funds for this aid are derived from levies imposed on the production of coal and steel as provided for in Article 49 of the ECSC Treaty.

This fifth medical research programme is a natural continuation of earlier programmes dating back to 1956 which examined basic health problems in the coal and steel industries such as the aetiopathogenesis of pneumoconiosis, chronic bronchitis and emphysema and the various aspects of respiratory physiopathology. As in the fourth programme, experimental and epidemiological research has been extended to include all harmful agents in the workers' environment in ECSC industries as well as individual factors relating to sensitivity. Particular attention is also paid to cancers and the early detection of cancer by research into the carcinogenic nature of atmosphere pollutants. The programme is therefore closely related to the action programme "Europe against Cancer".


- Occupational cancers:
To define and assess the risks presented by recognized or suspected carcinogenic agents found at workplaces in ECSC industries, with a view to establishing a specific policy of prevention;

- Occupational hypoacusis:
To develop suitable systems for protecting workers' safety and health from the effects of noise on hearing and on other areas;

- Occupational respiratory diseases:
To continue research on pneumoconiosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and the adverse effects of unfavourable climatic conditions, and to provide for the application and assessment at the workplace of simple, reliable respiratory function tests and of the revised version of the ECSC questionnaire on respiratory symptoms;

- Occupational muscular-skeletal complaints:
To carry out experiments to draw up aptitude criteria for activities which are particularly stressful for the vertebral column;

- Diseases linked to exposure to certain chemicals:
Particular attention to the risks of skin disease (including allergies) and renal, hepatic, cardiovascular and neurological diseases arising from exposure to substances such as isocyanates, solvents and detergents, cutting oils and used oils, additives derived from hydrocarbons, and organic phosphorous compounds;

- Training and information:
To promote and develop the transfer of knowledge acquired in pure, physiological and clinical research to the practical measures designed to bring about an improvement in the safety and health protection of workers;

- Methods for measuring workers' exposure:
To test appropriate monitoring methods for measuring regular exposure, and to devote more research to establishing biological limits so that pollution levels at the workplace may be assessed.


The Commission, advised by a committee of scientific experts comprising a maximum of two experts from each Member State, is responsible for the implementation of the programme. It is assisted for the first time in the course of the medical research programmes by national groups mainly comprising senior occupational physicians from undertakings in the coal and steel industries. The Committee of Producers and Workers on Industrial Safety and Medicine informs the Commission of its opinions on the various projects. A committee of government experts comprising appropriately qualified senior civil servants nominated by the Member States also submits its opinions.

Projects will be initiated and directed by industrial medical officers or hospital and university doctors working in close contact with the industries concerned. Priority will be given to projects involving cooperation between two or more Member States. The financial aid granted by the Commission will usually cover no more than 60% of the total costs. Concise final reports on the projects and, where appropriate, combined reports on groups of projects, will be drawn up and distributed in the relevant sectors of the industries. Details of projects will also be published in Euro-Abstracts.
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top