Montag, 20.11.2017 18:11 Uhr

Carcinogens or mutagens at work: Council sets new limits

Verantwortlicher Autor: Peter Schellinck Brussels, 17.07.2017, 14:59 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: Peter Schellinck Bericht 3403x gelesen

Brussels [ENA] On 11 July 2017, the Council's Permanent Representatives Committee approved the provisional agreement reached with the European Parliament on 28 June on the directive protecting workers from exposure to carcinogens or mutagens in the workplace. By setting limits for carcinogens and mutagens this agreement helps tackle the primary cause of work-related deaths in the EU.

The aim is to help save up to 100 000 lives over the next 50 years. The directive proposes to set exposure limits for a further 11 carcinogens in addition to those covered by the existing 2004 directive. These are: respirable crystalline silica dust, 1,2-epoxypropane, 1,3-butadiene, 2-nitropropane, acrylamide, certain chromium (VI) compounds, ethylene oxide, o-toluidine, refractory ceramic fibres, bromoethylene and hydrazine.

The directive also revises the limits for vinyl chloride monomer and hardwood dusts in the light of more recent scientific data. There will be minimum requirements for eliminating and reducing all carcinogens and mutagens. Employers will also have to identify and assess risks to workers who are associated with exposure to specific carcinogens (and mutagens), and must prevent exposure where risks exist. The main changes to the Commission proposal are the following:

° Reprotoxic substances: the Commission will have to assess the possibility of including reprotoxic substances in the scope of the directive by the first quarter of 2019 at the latest, and may present a legislative proposal on the matter. ° Chromium VI: there will be an exposure limit value of 0.010 mg/m3 for a period of 5 years after the date of transposition of the directive; after that period a limit of 0.005 mg/m3 will apply. There is a derogation for welding or plasma-cutting processes or similar work processes that generate fumes: for them the exposure limit value is 0.025 mg/m3 until 5 years after the transposition date and after that period the limit will be 0.005 mg/m3.

° Hardwood dust: there will be an exposure limit value of 3 mg/m3 for 5 years after the entry into force of the directive and thereafter a limit of 2 mg/m3. ° Respiratory crystalline silica dust: the Commission committed itself to evaluating the need to modify the limit value for respirable crystalline silica dust as part of the next evaluation of the implementation of the directive. ° Health surveillance: the doctor or authority responsible for the health surveillance of workers within member states may indicate that health surveillance must continue after the end of exposure for as long as they consider it necessary to safeguard the health of the worker concerned.

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