Dying to earn a living: the truth about occupational health risks in France

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A recently-published study of health risks at the workplace in France demonstrates the grave dangers millions of employees are exposed to and the immense difficulties in attaining official recognition of these and the illnesses that they create. The study is presented in a book entitled Les Risques du travail, co-authored by experts on occupational health and safety, and which is an updated version of a similar study published under the same title in 1985. In this interview with Mathilde Goanec and Rachida El Azzouzi, two of the new book’s co-author’s, Annie Thébaud-Mony and Laurent Vogel, detail their findings and explain why the evolution of the economy and industry over the past 30 years have made occupational risks more diversified and the health consequences harder to legally prove.

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In 1985, French publishing house La Découverte published a study on health and safety hazards at the workplace in France, entitled Les Risques du travail : Pour ne pas perdre sa vie à la gagner (‘The risks of work: to not lose life while earning a living’). Compiled with the help of dozens of contributors – including scientific researchers, lawyers and trades union officials – it set a milestone in bringing to the fore an issue that had been largely ignored until then in public debate.