The EU agrees to amend directives on lead and diisocyanates in the workplace.

UM – 11/2023

On 14 November, the negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the directive regarding the limit values for lead and its inorganic compounds as well as those for diisocyanates. The agreement is a positive signal for safety in the workplace. However, both the Parliament and the Council still have to formally adopt the agreement.

Lower limits for lead

The new regulations are intended to provide better protection with regard to the health of employees. The workplace maximum allowable concentrations for lead will be reduced to 0.03 mg/m3 air and the biological limit value to 15 µg/100 ml blood. In addition to a two-year implementation period, a transitional period of three years is planned for the latter value and the limit value will be set at 30 µg/100 ml during this period. Those affected from being exposed to lead in their workplaces for years should undergo regular medical monitoring. Female employees of childbearing age should be better protected.

Limit values for diisocyanates for the first time

Limit values for diisocyanates will be introduced at EU level for the first time. The general workplace maximum allowable concentrations will be set at 6 µg NCO/m3 (the maximum concentration to which a worker can be exposed during an eight-hour working day) and at 12 µg NCO/m3 for short-term exposure, i.e. for a period of 15 minutes. After formal adoption, the member states have two years to implement the directive's provisions in their national laws. The EC also has until 2029 to review the limit values stipulated in the directive.

DSV opinion

Due to its direct relevance for statutory accident insurance, the DSV has been involved in the progress of the political agreement process throughout the legislative procedure. In its statement, it welcomed the lowering of the limit values for lead and the introduction of limit values for diisocyanates. However, due to the remaining risks, additional protective and hygiene measures remain important. In addition, when raising the level of protection for workers, sufficient time should be allowed to ensure that the new limit values can also be technically monitored in practice. The compromise reached also takes this into account.