In order to strengthen the right of workers
to a high level of health at work, the Commission published an amendment to
Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to
carcinogens or mutagens at work in April 2018 (see article 4/2018).
This amendment proposes exposure limits for
workers to five more carcinogens. These are:
1. Cadmium - 0.001 mg/m3. This
value is to apply after a transitional period of seven years, in the meantime,
the limit 0.004 mg/m3 shall apply.
2. Beryllium - 0.0002 mg/m3.
This value is to apply after a transitional period of five years, in the
meantime the limit of 0.0006 mg/m3 shall apply.
3. Arsenic acid - 0.01 mg/m3.
This value is to apply to the field of copper smelting after a transitional
period of two years.
4. Formaldehyde - 0.37 mg/m3 for
8-hour exposure and 0.74 mg/m3 for short-term exposure. These limits
shall apply after a transitional period of three years.
5. MOCA - 0.01 mg/m3 with
evidence of possible skin absorption.
The Commission estimates that the proposal
would improve working conditions for more than 1,000,000 workers in the EU and
prevent more than 22,000 work-related illnesses.
meeting on 6 December, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer
Affairs Council reached an agreement on the basis for negotiations with
the European Parliament. Prior to this, the Employment and Social Affairs
Committee of the European Parliament had already submitted its report.
Principle 10 of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the EU Commission wants
to strengthen workers’ rights to a healthy, safe and well-adapted work
environment. Protecting workers’ health by constantly reducing exposure to
carcinogenic and mutagenic substances in the workplace is a specific measure to
implement this principle.
Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of
workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work
includes measures to prevent or reduce exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic
chemical agents. In order to maximise the protection of workers through the
proposed rules, the Directive is regularly updated to the latest scientific and
The Commission had previously proposed two
amendments to the Directive in May 2016 and in January 2017 (see articles 7/2017 and 6/2016).
The first amendment was adopted as Directive
(EU) 2017/2398 by the two legislative bodies at the end of 2017.
A compromise to the second amendment has been approved by The Permanent
Representatives Committee and the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of
the European Parliament reached in the
interinstitutional negotiations. The compromise was adopted by the European Parliament on 11 December 2018.
Infographic on dangerous substances
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work wants to raise awareness of the
risks posed by hazardous substances and promote a culture of risk prevention with
its 2018-2019 ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances’ Campaign (see article
12/2017). To support its campaign, the Agency has published an
interactive infographic about dangerous substances. The infographic containing facts and figures on the risks of hazardous substances to workers,
including the hazards of carcinogens at work.