Tag Archives: Protection of workers

Exposure to carcinogens and mutagens

Exposure to carcinogens and mutagens

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exposure to carcinogens and mutagens

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Exposure to carcinogens and mutagens

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2004/37/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 29 April 2004 on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work (Sixth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Council Directive 89/391/EEC).

Summary

This Directive does not apply to workers exposed only to the forms of radiation covered by the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom Treaty). It applies to workers exposed to asbestos when its provisions are more favourable than those of Directive 83/477/EEC (as last amended by Directive 2003/18/EC).
Directive 89/391/EEC applies in full, without prejudice to more binding and/or more specific provisions contained in this Directive.

In the case of any activity likely to carry the risk of exposure to carcinogens or mutagens, the nature, degree and duration of workers’ exposure must be determined on a regular basis in order to assess any risk to workers’ health or safety and decide the steps to be taken. All routes of exposure must be taken into account, including absorption into and/or through the skin. Particular attention must be paid to workers who are especially at risk.

EMPLOYERS’ OBLIGATIONS

Reduction and replacement

Employers must reduce the use of a carcinogen or mutagen, particularly by replacing it, as far as is technically possible, with a substance, preparation or process that is not dangerous or is less dangerous.

Prevention and reduction of exposure

Employers must ensure that the carcinogen or mutagen is manufactured and used in a closed system. If this is not technically possible, employers must ensure that the level of exposure is as low as is technically possible.
Exposure must not exceed the limits set out in Annex III.

Information for the competent authority

Employers must provide the competent authority, on request, with information relating to such matters as the reasons for using carcinogens or mutagens, the preventive measures taken and the number of workers exposed.

Unforeseeable exposure

In the event of unforeseeable incidents or accidents likely to lead to workers being abnormally exposed, employers must inform their workers. Protective clothing and respiratory personal protective equipment must be worn, and exposure must be kept to the strict minimum necessary.

Foreseeable exposure

For certain activities, such as maintenance work, for which the likelihood of a significant increase in exposure is foreseeable and against which all preventive measures have been taken, employers must decide the measures necessary to reduce as far as possible the amount of time workers are exposed and to ensure that they are protected during these activities. Protective clothing and respiratory personal protective equipment must be worn, and exposure must be kept to the strict minimum necessary. Moreover, the areas used for such activities must be clearly demarked and indicated.

Access to risk areas

Employers must restrict access to risk areas to workers who, by virtue of their work or duties, are required to enter such areas.

Measures regarding hygiene and personal protection

Employers are required to take the following measures regarding hygiene and personal protection for all activities that carry a risk of contamination:

  • ensure that workers do no eat, drink or smoke in work areas where there is a risk of contamination;
  • supply workers with the appropriate clothes and provide separate storage places for work clothes and street clothes;
  • provide washing and toilet facilities;
  • properly store, check and clean protective equipment before and after every use.

Workers must not bear the cost of these measures.

Informing, training and consulting workers

Employers must take appropriate steps to ensure that workers and/or their representatives receive sufficient and suitable training about:

  • potential and additional health risks (smoking);
  • precautions for preventing exposure;
  • hygiene requirements;
  • protective clothing;
  • measures to be taken in the event of an incident.

Employers must ensure that containers, packages and installations containing carcinogens or mutagens are clearly and legibly labelled, and that warning signs are clearly displayed.

Appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that workers are able to assess whether the Directive is being applied correctly. They must be informed as quickly as possible in the event of abnormal exposure.

Employers must have an updated list of workers undertaking activities that carry a risk to their health and safety in terms of exposure to carcinogens and mutagens.

Workers and/or their representatives must be consulted about and involved in all matters related to exposure to carcinogens and mutagens.

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Health monitoring

Member States must take steps to ensure that the health of every exposed worker can be adequately monitored. These must be such that it is possible to apply individual and work-related health measures. When a worker’s health is monitored, an individual medical file is to be created.
Practical recommendations relating to the monitoring of workers’ health can be found in Annex II.
All cases of cancer identified as resulting from exposure at work must be notified to the competent authority.

Record-keeping

The up-to-date list of workers who have been exposed, which the employer is required to keep, and individual medical files are to be kept for at least 40 years after the end of exposure.

Limit values

The Council sets out in directives, where possible, limit values for all carcinogens or mutagens and, where necessary, other directly related provisions. Annex III contains the limit values for benzene, vinyl chloride monomer and hardwood dusts.

Annexes I (list of substances, preparations and processes) and III (limit values) can be amended only by the Council (Article 137 of the EC Treaty).
Technical amendments to Annex II (practical recommendations relating to the monitoring of workers’ health) are adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 17 of Directive 89/391/EEC.

Context

This Directive is a consolidation Directive that replaces Directive 90/394/EEC and its subsequent amendments (Directive 90/394/EEC, Directive 97/42/EC and Directive 1999/38/EC). It makes no substantive changes and merely consolidates the body of texts which it replaces. The deadlines for the transposition of Directives 90/394/EEC, 97/42/EC and 1999/38/EC into national law continue to apply.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2004/37/EC

20.05.2004

Directive 90/394/EEC: 31.12.92
Directive 97/42/EC: 27.06.00
Directive 1999/38/EC:
29.04.03

OJ L 158 of 30.04.2004

Related Acts

Council Directive 1967/548/EEC of 27 June 1967 on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances [Official Journal L 196 of 16.08.1967]

Directive of the European Parliament and the Council of 31 May 1999 concerning the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous preparations [Official Journal L 200 of 30.07.1999]

Exposure to artificial optical radiation

Exposure to artificial optical radiation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exposure to artificial optical radiation

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Exposure to artificial optical radiation

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2006/25/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to risks arising from physical agents (artificial optical radiation) (19th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC).

Summary

This Directive is part of a “package” of four Directives regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents: noise, vibration, electromagnetic fields and optical radiation.

This is a Directive under framework Directive 89/391/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work.

Risks of optical radiation and scope

The exposure of workers to artificial optical radiation *, laser *, laser radiation * and non-coherent radiation * can have chronic adverse effects on the eyes and skin.

This Directive reduces the level of exposure to this radiation firstly by the introduction of preventive measures in the design of workstations, in order to reduce the risks at source. It also fixes exposure limit values for workers exposed to non-coherent radiation and laser radiation (Annex 2).

Obligations of employers

  • Assessment of the level of radiation.
    Firstly, the employer assesses or measures the levels of optical radiation to which employees are exposed so that they can be reduced if they exceed the applicable limits. He measures them on the basis of the standards of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Commission on Illumination (CEI) and the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) or, failing that, using available national or international science-based guidelines.
  • Reduction of the risks.
    Secondly, the employer must reduce the level of radiation if the assessment indicates any possibility that the exposure limit values have been exceeded, for example by choosing a different material or limiting the duration of exposure.
  • Worker information and training.
    The workers or their representatives receive the necessary information and training, for example in the use of protective equipment.
  • Consultation and participation of workers.
    Employers must consult workers or their representatives in advance with regard to the protection of the safety and health of workers. They may propose measures to improve this protection and even enlist the competent authorities if they consider that the health protection offered by the employer is not adequate (in accordance with framework Directive 89/391/EEC).

Health surveillance

The health of workers is subject to surveillance carried out by a doctor, as is any risk arising from exposure to optical radiation, in accordance with the relevant national legislation.

Health records are made for each worker and updated after each health check. On request, individual workers may have access to their own personal health records.

Harmful effects and/or exceeding of limit values

In the event of exposure exceeding the limit values, a medical examination is automatically made available to the workers. If the limit values have been exceeded and/or the workers have suffered harmful effects to their health:

  • the worker is informed by the doctor or qualified person of the results relating to him and any significant findings;
  • the employer reviews the risk assessment and the measures taken, implements the measures recommended by the competent persons and establishes a continuous surveillance system.

Penalties

The Member States must provide for appropriate penalties if the national provisions adopted pursuant to the Directive have been infringed.

Reports

Every five years, the Member States provide the Commission with a report on the practical implementation of this Directive, including the opinions of the social partners.

Every five years, the Commission informs the European Parliament, the Council, and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work of its assessment of these reports.

Key terms used in the act

  • Optical radiation: any electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range between 100 nm and 1 mm.
    The spectrum of optical radiation is divided into ultraviolet radiation (UVA, UVB and UVC), visible radiation and infrared radiation.
  • Laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation): any device which can produce or amplify electromagnetic radiation in the optical radiation wavelength range primarily by the process of controlled stimulated emission.
  • Laser radiation: optical radiation from a laser.
  • Non-coherent radiation: any optical radiation other than laser radiation.

References

Act

Entry into force – Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2006/25/ECE

27.04.2006

27.04.2010

OJ L 114 of 27.04.2006