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SNCB fined for exposing staff to toxic substance
Belgian rail operator SNCB has been fined €210,000 for exposing staff to a toxic substance for a year and a half, during renovation works.
About 60 engineers had sued the company after they discovered in February 2016 that they had been exposed to chromium trioxide while they worked on renovating old train carriages from the 1970s.
Several workers' blood tests showed high levels of the substance. The case, in Ghent labour court, was postponed several times pending expert reports on the health risks of chromium trioxide.
Judge Peter Coppens said the incident was "extremely serious".
"It has been proven that chromium trioxide causes cancer," he said. "Experts say that all exposure must be as limited as possible. The SNCB knew this but did not take the necessary preventive measures."
While the SNCB must pay the €210,000 fine, it is under no obligation to pay compensation to its workers.