New draft directive has been published

JA – 02/2023

The European Commission announced on 13 February that in order to protect workers, it will be introducing new workplace exposure limits for harmful chemicals such as lead and diisocyanates  – a raw material used in production of building foam.

Amendments to two directives

Specifically, the draft directive proposes amendments to Directive 2004/37/EU on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work, such as lead as well as Directive 98/24/EU on the protection of the health and safety of workers from the risks related to chemical agents at work, such as lead and diisocyanates.

Lead and diisocyanates: health risks

These substances are also used when manufacturing batteries, electric cars and wind turbines as well as being used as building insulation and they are increasingly being used during energy transition as well. Lead can affect sexual function, fertility and foetal development in pregnant women, as well as it having other adverse effects on the nervous system, kidneys, heart and the blood of individuals exposed to it. Diisocyanates are often the cause of occupational respiratory diseases.

Prevention and occupational safety

This is why the European Commission is planning to further reduce the existing workplace exposure limits and set a maximum permitted concentration of this substance in the air that workers breathe in. Diisocyanates exposure limits are to be introduced at EU level for the first time in order to protect workers from being exposed to it.

Healthy and safe workplaces in the EU

The European Commission's proposed directive aims to help make workplaces healthier and safer and it follows on from commitments listed in the EU Strategic Framework for Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027. The Commission invites feedback until 14 April.