The Occupational Safety & Health Reporter™ provides complete news coverage and documentation of federal and state occupational safety and health programs, standards, legislation, regulations,...
May 16 — The European Commission proposed to amend May 13 a 2004 European Union directive on workplace safety by modifying occupational exposure limits for 13 carcinogenic substances.
The commission, the EU's executive arm, said in an impact assessment accompanying the proposal that the EU Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (2004/37/EC) was “outdated” and “not in line with scientific evidence.” New EU-wide exposure limits for the substances were needed because EU countries have varying national limits, meaning companies in countries with less-stringent controls could “benefit from an undue competitive advantage,” the commission added.
The impact assessment gave the example of 1,2-epoxypropane, one of the 13 substances, for which workplace exposure limits in France, Greece and Romania are 10 times less strict than those in Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.
For another of the substances, 2-nitropropane, 11 of 28 EU member states, including France, Italy and Poland, have no workplace exposure limit, according to the commission's impact assessment.
The other substances for which EU limits would be put in place under the commission's proposal are 1,3-butadiene, acrylamide, bromoethylene, chromium (VI) compounds, ethylene oxide, hardwood dusts, hydrazine, o-toluidine, respirable crystalline silica, refractory ceramic fibers and vinyl chloride monomer.
The commission said that harmonized EU workplace exposure limits for the substances could reduce the number of cancer cases by 100,000 in the next half century.
Cancer deaths would be avoided in particular by the imposition of a workplace exposure limit on respirable crystalline silica, which is dust created by work processes such as mining, quarrying, or tunnelling or cutting, crushing or grinding of silica-containing materials such as concrete, bricks or rocks, the commission said.
The commission proposed a limit of 0.1 milligram per cubic meter of air for respirable crystalline silica, which would bring the EU into line with Australia and Canada. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule (RIN:1218-AB70) in March limiting respirable crystalline silica exposure to 0.05 miligram per cubic meter (46 OSHR 298, 3/31/16).
The commission impact assessment added that the amendments to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive would complement measures under the EU's REACH law (Regulation No. 1907/2006 on the registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals), under which restrictions or prohibitions have already been put on many of the 13 substances.
For example, a number of chromium compounds are included in Annex XIV of REACH, meaning they cannot be used in the EU without specific continued-use authorizations.
The European Chemical Industry Council welcomed the proposals.
Marco Mensink, the council's director general, said EU limits for the 13 substances would provide “added value” to “voluntary programs” to reduce workplace exposure to carcinogens in the EU.
David Casa, a Maltese center-right member of the European Parliament, said lawmakers would “make sure that this proposal becomes law in the shortest time frame possible,” because cancer was “the first cause of work-related deaths in the EU.”
For the commission's proposal to be adopted, it must be agreed by the European Parliament, and by the Council of the EU, which represents the governments of member states.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Gardner in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at email@example.com
Documents related to the European Commission's proposed amendment of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive are available at http://bit.ly/1TapZxL.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)