Tag Archives: Protection

Rights of victims of crime

Rights of victims of crime

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rights of victims of crime

Topics

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

Justice freedom and security > Judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Rights of victims of crime (Proposal)

Proposal

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime [COM(2011) 275 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission proposes a Directive aimed at ensuring that victims * of crime have the same level of protection, support and access to justice in all European Union (EU) countries. It will replace Framework Decision 2001/220/JAI on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings and forms part of a series of measures aimed at strengthening victims’ rights.

The Directive will accord the status of victim not only to persons harmed by the offence, but also to certain family members * if the person dies as a result of the offence.

Information and support for victims

To enable them to fully access their rights, victims must receive sufficient information in a comprehensible form. They must also have access to psychological support and practical assistance. The Proposal aims to guarantee:

  • the right to receive information from first contact with a judicial authority, specifically on how to make a complaint of a criminal offence, details of the proceedings and how to obtain protection if required;
  • the right to receive information about their case, in particular on the decision to end or proceed with an investigation, on the time and place of the trial, and, under certain conditions, on the release of the person prosecuted for the offence;
  • the right to understand and to be understood;
  • the right to interpretation and translation: if victims do not speak the language of the criminal proceedings, they shall be provided with interpretation free of charge and shall receive a translation of the complaint made, of any decision ending the proceedings, and of information concerning their rights;
  • the right to access victim support services: these services must be free of charge and also accessible to certain family members. They provide emotional and psychological support, as well as practical assistance, for example concerning financial issues and the role of the victim in criminal proceedings.

Participation of victims in criminal proceedings

Victims have a legitimate interest in seeing that justice is done. Furthermore, they should be able to participate in the criminal proceedings which concern them. To this end, the Commission’s Proposal includes a number of rights which victims should be assured of:

  • the right to have their complaint acknowledged;
  • the right to be heard during the proceedings;
  • the right to request a revision in the event of a decision not to prosecute;
  • rights to safeguards in the event of using mediation and other restorative justice services; the aim is to protect victims from any intimidation or further victimisation during the process. These services can only be used with victims’ consent and after they have been properly informed. Consent may be withdrawn at any time;
  • the right to legal aid and to reimbursement of costs where the victim participates in criminal proceedings;
  • the right to the return of property seized in the course of criminal proceedings;
  • the right to a decision on compensation from the offender in the course of criminal proceedings;
  • concerning victims resident in another EU country, the difficulties connected with these cases should be reduced, specifically by taking a statement from the victim immediately after the complaint of the criminal offence is made and by using video conferencing and telephone conference calls as much as possible for the purpose of interviewing victims. Where victims were unable to make a complaint of a criminal offence in the State where the offence took place, they should be able to do so in their Member State of residence which will then send the complaint to the Member State concerned.

Recognition of vulnerability and protection of victims

The Commission proposes that measures should be available to protect the safety of victims and their family members from possible retaliation or intimidation by the offender. The authorities will therefore ensure that contact with the latter is reduced, particularly in premises where the criminal proceedings are conducted.

During the investigation, victims will be interviewed quickly and only as many times as is necessary. If they wish, they may be accompanied by a legal representative or by a person of their choice. Their private life as well as that of their family must be protected.

The Proposal for a Directive recognises that certain people have a particularly high risk of suffering further during criminal proceedings. After an assessment of their individual needs, these vulnerable victims shall be accorded certain additional rights and services. This Proposal considers children, disabled people and victims of sexual violence or human trafficking to be vulnerable victims.

It is important that justice professionals, police officers and members of the victim support services receive appropriate training so that they are better able to meet the needs of victims.

Key terms of the Act
  • Victim: any natural person who has suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering or economic loss directly caused by a criminal offence; also any family members of a person whose death has been caused by a criminal offence.
  • Family member: the spouse, non-marital cohabitee, registered partner, the relatives in direct line, the brothers and sisters, and the dependants of the victim.

Reference

Proposal Official Journal Procedure

COM(2011) 275

2011/129/COD

Related Acts

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters [COM(2011) 276 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The aim of the proposed Regulation is that any protection measure issued by a Member State will be easily recognised in the rest of the EU without any further formality other than a standardised, multi-lingual certificate.

Co-decision procedure (2011/0130/COD)

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 18 May 2011 – Strengthening victims’ rights in the EU [COM(2011) 274 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Self-employed workers: health and safety at work

Self-employed workers: health and safety at work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Self-employed workers: health and safety at work

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

Self-employed workers: health and safety at work

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation 2003/134/EC of 18 February 2003 concerning the improvement of the protection of the health and safety at work of self-employed workers.

Summary

This recommendation concerns workers who exercise their occupational activity in a manner which does not involve an employment relationship with an employer or, more generally, does not make them subordinate to a third person.

Although self-employed workers are not covered by the Directives on health and safety at work, notably Directive 89/391/EEC, they are very often subject to health and safety risks similar to those experienced by employees.
Moreover, there are a large number of self-employed workers in certain “high-risk” sectors such as agriculture, fishing, construction, and transport.

For this reason the Council recommends that Member States promote prevention policies as well as health and safety at work measures, notably via awareness-raising campaigns, as well as access to training and health surveillance.
More specifically, Member States are recommended:

  • to promote, in the context of their policies on preventing occupational accidents and diseases, the safety and health of self-employed workers, while taking account of the special risks existing in specific sectors and the specific nature of the relationship between contracting undertakings and self-employed workers;
  • when promoting health and safety for self-employed workers, to choose the measures they consider most appropriate, such as one or more of the following: legislation, incentives, information campaigns and encouragement of relevant stakeholders;
  • to implement awareness-raising campaigns, so that self-employed workers can obtain from the competent services and/or bodies, as well as from their own representative organisations, useful information and advice on the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases;
  • to take the measures necessary so that self-employed workers can have access to sufficient training to acquire appropriate safety and health skills;
  • to facilitate easy access to this information and training without involving excessive expense for self-employed workers;
  • to allow self-employed workers who so wish to have access to health surveillance appropriate to the risks to which they are exposed;
  • to take account of available information on experience in other Member States;
  • to examine, between now and 2007, the effectiveness of existing national measures or measures taken subsequent to the adoption of this recommendation and to duly inform the Commission.

This recommendation does not affect existing or future national provisions providing for a higher degree of protection and Member States should choose the means they consider to be most appropriate to meet its objectives.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Council Recommendation 2003/134/EC 18.02.03 OJ L 53 of 28.02.2003

 

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]

Protection of young people at work

Protection of young people at work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of young people at work

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

Protection of young people at work

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 94/33/EC of 22 June 1994 on the protection of young people at work.

Summary

The Directive applies to all young people under the age of 18 who have an employment contract or an employment relationship defined by the law in force in a Member State and/or subject to the law in force in a Member State.

The Member States may stipulate that the Directive shall not be applicable to occasional work or work carried out for a limited period in domestic service in a private household or to work in a family business which is not considered likely to harm, injure or endanger young people.

The Directive provides that the Member States shall take the necessary measures to prohibit the employment of children and shall ensure that the employment of adolescents is strictly controlled and protected under the conditions provided for in the Directive.

The Directive defines categories of young people as follows:

  • young people: young people under the age of 18;
  • children: young people under the age of 15 or who are still in full-time compulsory education in accordance with national legislation;
  • adolescents: young people between the ages of 15 and 18 who are no longer in full-time compulsory education in accordance with national legislation.

The Directive’s main objective is to prohibit the employment of children.

However, the Directive allows the Member States to stipulate, subject to certain conditions, that the ban on the employment of children is not applicable to:

  • children employed for the purposes of cultural, artistic, sporting or advertising activities, subject to prior authorisation by the competent authority in each specific case;
  • children aged 14 years or over who work in an undertaking as part of a work/training scheme or traineeship, provided that this work is carried out in accordance with the requirements laid down by the competent authority;
  • children aged 14 years or over performing light work other than that referred to in the first point above ; however, children over 13 may perform light work for a limited number of hours per week in categories of employment defined in national legislation.

The Directive includes provisions relating to:

  • the employer’s general obligations, such as protection of the health and safety of young people, assessment of the risks to young people associated with their work, assessment and monitoring of the health of young people, information about young people and children’s legal representatives on the possible risks to their health and safety;
  • types of employment which must not be carried out by young people, such as work which exceeds the mental or physical capacities of young people, work involving harmful exposure to dangerous substances.

In addition, the Directive contains provisions relating to working hours, night work, rest periods, annual leave and rest breaks.

Each Member State is responsible for defining the measures to be taken in the event of infringement of the provisions of this Directive. These measures must be effective and proportionate to the offence.

The Directive contains a non-regression clause concerning the level of protection for young people.

The Directive provides for transition periods of varying lengths for Member States for which the application of this Directive poses significant problems. This is the case for the United Kingdom, which has a transition period of four years to apply some of the most important provisions of the Directive, i.e. until 22 June 2000.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Directive 94/33/EC

22.06.1996

Official Journal L 216 of 20.08.1994

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions on the application of Directive 94/33/EC on the protection of young people at work [COM(2004) 105 final].

The report concludes that in most Member States the legislation already made provision for the protection of young workers and the prohibition of child labour before the Directive was adopted. There were therefore no significant problems in transposing the Directive.

Report from the Commission on the effects of the transitional period granted to the United Kingdom concerning certain provisions of Council Directive 94/33/EC on the protection of young people at work [COM(2000)457 final].

Strategy for the marine environment

Strategy for the marine environment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for the marine environment

Topics

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

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Strategy for the marine environment

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive).

Summary

This directive establishes common principles on the basis of which Member States have to draw up their own strategies, in cooperation with other Member States and third countries, to achieve a good ecological status* in the marine waters for which they are responsible.

These strategies aim to protect and restore Europe’s marine ecosystems and to ensure the ecological sustainability of economic activities linked to the marine environment.

Europe’s seas may be divided into four regions (with possible subregions): the Baltic Sea, the North-East Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In each region and possibly in the subregions to which they belong, the Member States concerned must coordinate their actions with each other and with the third countries involved. To this end they can benefit from the experience and capabilities of existing regional organisations.

Marine strategies at regional level

Member States must firstly assess the ecological status of their waters and the impact of human activities. This assessment covers:

  • an analysis of the essential characteristics of these waters (physical and chemical features, types of habitat, animal and plant populations, etc.);
  • an analysis of the main impacts and pressures, particularly as a result of human activities which affect the characteristics of these waters (contamination by toxic products, eutrophication, smothering or sealing of habitats by construction work, introduction of non-indigenous species, physical damage caused by ship anchors, etc.);
  • an economic and social analysis of the use of these waters and the cost of the degradation of the marine environment.

This initial evaluation will help to improve knowledge of European waters, thanks to instruments already used for other policies such as GMES and the programme commonly called INSPIRE.

Member States must then determine the “good ecological status”* of the waters on the basis of criteria such as biodiversity, the presence of non-indigenous species, stock health, the food chain, eutrophication, changes in hydrographic conditions and concentrations of contaminants, the amount of waste and noise pollution.

On the basis of the evaluation of waters, the Member States must define the objectives and indicators to achieve this good ecological status. These objectives must be measurable, consistent within a particular maritime region or subregion and tied to a definite timetable.

Member States draw up a programme of specific measures to achieve these objectives. These measures must give due consideration to their economic and social consequences. Member States must specify the reasons preventing successful completion of any of these measures (action or inaction of another State, forcemajeure, etc.). Before they are implemented, the measures decided by the Member States must be the subject of impact assessments and cost/benefit analyses.

Member States must also establish coordinated monitoring programmes in order to evaluate on a regular basis the status of the waters for which they are responsible and progress with regard to the objectives they have set.

Key elements of the strategies are reviewed every six years and interim reports are drawn up every three years.

A common framework for cooperation

The Commission is the guarantor of the coherence of actions by the Member States; they have to submit the details of the key elements of their strategies at each stage of their formulation. This information is examined by the Commission, which can give the States guidance on how to ensure compliance with the strategy and the coherence of the proposed measures.

Member States who are in the same marine region are required to coordinate their action. To this end the strategy recommends use of the cooperation mechanisms set up by existing international conventions. The international organisations established by these conventions provide their scientific and technical know-how and allow cooperation to be extended to third countries that are parties.

The Community approach also ensures coherence between the sectors and with other European policies, such as the or the , of which this Framework Directive represents the “environment” pillar.

Context

The marine environment is a precious asset. Oceans and seas provide 99 % of the available living space on the planet, cover 71 % of the earth’s surface and contain 90 % of the biosphere and consequently contain more biological diversity than terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. The marine environment is essential to life on earth (particularly as the main source of oxygen) and plays a key role in climate and weather patterns. It is also an important factor in economic prosperity, social wellbeing and quality of life.

Key terms

  • Ecological status: the overall state of the environment in marine waters, taking into account the structure, function and processes of the constituent marine ecosystems together with natural physiographic, geographic, biological, geological and climatic factors, as well as physical, acoustic and chemical conditions, including those resulting from human activities inside or outside the area concerned.
  • Good ecological status: the environmental status of marine waters where these provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive within their intrinsic conditions, and the use of the marine environment is at a level that is sustainable, thus safeguarding the potential for uses and activities by current and future generations, i.e.:
    • the structure, functions and processes of the constituent marine ecosystems, together with the associated physiographic, geographic, geological and climatic factors, allow those ecosystems to function fully and to maintain their resilience to human-induced environmental change. Marine species and habitats are protected, human-induced decline of biodiversity is prevented and diverse biological components function in balance;
    • hydro-morphological, physical and chemical properties of the ecosystems, including those properties which result from human activities in the area concerned, support the ecosystems as described above. Anthropogenic inputs of substances and energy, including noise, into the marine environment do not cause pollution effects.
  • Good ecological status shall be determined at the level of the marine region or subregion as referred to in Article 4, on the basis of the qualitative descriptors in Annex I. Adaptive management on the basis of the ecosystem approach shall be applied with the aim of attaining good ecological status.

References

Act

Entry into force

Transposition deadline for Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2008/56/EC

15.7.2008

15.7.2010

OJ L 164, 25.6.2008

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 24 October 2005, “Thematic strategy on the protection and conservation of the marine environment” [COM(2005) 504 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 2 October 2002, “Towards a strategy to protect and conserve the marine environment” [COM(2002) 539 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Decision 98/249/EC of 7 October 1997 on the conclusion of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (Paris Convention) [Official Journal L 104 of 3.4.1998].

Decision 94/157/EC of 21 February 1994 on the conclusion, on behalf of the Community, of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea area (Helsinki Convention as revised in 1992) [Official Journal L 73 of 16.3.1994].

Decision 77/585/EEC of 25 July 1977 concluding the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution and the Protocol for the Prevention of the Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by dumping from ships and aircraft [Official Journal L 240 of 19.9.1977].

Protection of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding

Protection of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding

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

Protection of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 concerning the implementation of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of pregnant workers, workers who have recently given birth and women who are breastfeeding (Tenth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC). [See amending acts].

Summary

In consultation with the Member States and assisted by the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work, the Commission shall draw up guidelines on the assessment of the chemical, physical and biological agents and industrial processes considered dangerous for the health and safety of female workers in the above categories. The guidelines will also cover physical movements and postures, mental and physical fatigue and other types of physical and mental stress.

These guidelines will lay the basis for risk evaluation. In this way, for all activities liable to involve a risk, the employer or the health and safety service must determine the nature, degree and duration of exposure in order to evaluate the risks and decide what measures should be taken. Workers are to be notified of the results and of measures involving health and safety at work.

Provisional measures

Exposure of the workers in question to the above risks is to be avoided by provisionally adjusting their working conditions or their working hours. Where such adjustment is not technically and/or objectively feasible, or cannot reasonably be required on duly substantiated grounds, the employer shall take the necessary measures to move the worker concerned to another job. Where transfer to another activity is not feasible, the workers in question must be granted leave for the whole of the period considered necessary to protect their safety and health.

Work environment

Pregnant workers may under no circumstances be obliged to perform duties for which the assessment has revealed a risk of exposure to the agents and working conditions listed in Annex II, Section A, and, in the case of workers who are breastfeeding, to the agents and working conditions listed in Annex II, Section B.

Night work

Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the workers concerned are not obliged to perform night work during their pregnancy and for a period following childbirth, subject to submission of a medical certificate, by transferring them to daytime work where possible, or otherwise by excusing them from work or extending maternity leave.

Maternity leave

Maternity leave must be for an uninterrupted period of at least 14 weeks before and/or after delivery, two of which must occur before the delivery.

Ante-natal examinations

Pregnant workers have the right to take leave from work without loss of pay to enable them to attend ante-natal examinations if such examinations take place during working hours.

Protection against discriminatory dismissal

Women may not be dismissed for reasons related to their condition for the period from the beginning of their pregnancy to the end of the period of leave from work. In the event of dismissal, the employer must give good grounds in writing. Measures should be taken to protect such workers from the consequences of unlawful dismissal.

Employment rights

The employment rights relating to the employment contract, including the maintenance of a payment to, and/or entitlement to an adequate allowance for the pregnant workers, workers who have recently given birth and workers who are breastfeeding* must be insured. In the case of maternity leave, the pay and allowance shall be deemed adequate if it guarantees income at least equivalent to that which the worker concerned would receive in the event of a break in her activities on grounds connected with her state of health, subject to any ceiling laid down under national legislation. This right to pay or to an allowance may be subject to certain conditions, though not the condition that a period of work of more than 12 months should have immediately preceded the presumed date of delivery.

Defence of rights

The Member States shall introduce into their national legal systems such measures as are necessary to enable workers who consider themselves wronged by non-compliance with the obligations arising from this Directive to pursue their claims by judicial process after recourse to other competent authorities.

Application

Technical adjustments to Annex I shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 17 of Directive 89/391/EEC. Annex II may be amended only in accordance with Article 138 of the EC Treaty.

The Directive may not have the effect of reducing the level of protection afforded to pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth and/or who are breastfeeding as compared with the situation which exists in each Member State on the date on which it is adopted.

Member States shall report to the Commission every five years on the practical implementation of the Directive, indicating the points of view of the social partners.

Context

The objective of this Directive is to take minimum measures to protect the health and safety of pregnant workers, workers who have recently given birth and women who are breastfeeding, who must be considered to be a specific risk group.

The Directive is a follow-up to Framework Directive 89/391/EEC concerning the implementation of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of pregnant workers, workers who have recently given birth and women who are breastfeeding.

Key terms used in the act
  • Pregnant worker, worker who has recently given birth or worker who is breastfeeding: a pregnant worker, a worker who has recently given birth or a worker who is breastfeeding, and who informs her employer of her condition, in accordance with national legislation and/or national practice.

REFERENCES

Act

Date of entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 92/85/EEC

24.11.1992

19.10.1994

L 348 of 28.11.1992

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2007/30/EC

28.6.2007

31.12.2012

L165 of 27.6.2007

Related Acts


Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 October 2008 amending Council Directive on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or who are breastfeeding [ final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Proposal aims at improving the protection and rights of pregnant women, women who have recently given birth or who are breastfeeding, in order to better protect the interests of mothers and their children.

Maternity leave is extended from 14 to 18 weeks. This corresponds to 12 non-compulsory weeks that women can choose to take before or after confinement and six compulsory weeks after confinement. If the actual date of confinement differs from the presumed date, the period of leave before the birth could be extended without having an effect on the post-natal period. Moreover, additional leave may be granted in the event of premature childbirth, children hospitalised at birth, the birth of children with disabilities and multiple births.

The Proposal should also improve protection for working women and incite them to return to work after giving birth. Thus, during their maternity leave, they should receive a payment that is equal to their full salary. Member States may also however cap the allowance at the same level as for sick leave. In addition, women will have more leeway to choose the time at which they take the non-compulsory part of their leave (before or after birth). They will no longer be obliged to take a specific part of their leave before the birth, which is currently the case in some Member States.

At the end of maternity leave they have the right to return to work under equivalent conditions and to benefit from any improvements that have been made to working conditions. They may also request a re-examination of their working hours in order to better reconcile professional and family life.

Any breach of the Directive should be considered as discrimination. The Member States shall take the measures necessary to make its application effective. They should ensure in particular that their judicial systems provide rules that are favourable to victims: the burden of proof should fall upon the respondent, plaintiffs should be protected against any reprisals and dissuasive penalties should be implemented.

Communication from the Commission of 5 October 2000 on the Guidelines on the assessment of the chemical, physical and biological agents and industrial processes considered hazardous for the safety or health of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding [COM(2000)466 – Not published in the Official Journal].
These guidelines apply to the assessment of chemical, physical and biological agents and industrial processes considered hazardous for the health and safety of such workers. They also apply to physical movements and postures, mental and physical fatigue and other types of physical and mental stress.

Commission Report of 15 March 1999 on the implementation of Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the implementation of measures to encourage improvements in the health and safety of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding [COM(1999) 100 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The report provides a detailed breakdown of the rights of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding in the Member States of the Union. It highlights specific problems with implementation which have led to infringement proceedings. These include the outright ban by several Member States on night work for pregnant workers, and the lack of any compulsory maternity leave.
The report identifies other areas of concern, such as differences over which type of workers fall within the scope of the Directive, the difficulty in squaring health and security considerations with women’s entitlement to non-discriminatory treatment, and the right to return to a job.


Another Normative about Protection of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding

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 > Equality between men and women

Protection of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 concerning the implementation of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of pregnant workers, workers who have recently given birth and women who are breastfeeding (Tenth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC). [See amending acts].

Summary

In consultation with the Member States and assisted by the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work, the Commission shall draw up guidelines on the assessment of the chemical, physical and biological agents and industrial processes considered dangerous for the health and safety of female workers in the above categories. The guidelines will also cover physical movements and postures, mental and physical fatigue and other types of physical and mental stress.

These guidelines will lay the basis for risk evaluation. In this way, for all activities liable to involve a risk, the employer or the health and safety service must determine the nature, degree and duration of exposure in order to evaluate the risks and decide what measures should be taken. Workers are to be notified of the results and of measures involving health and safety at work.

Provisional measures

Exposure of the workers in question to the above risks is to be avoided by provisionally adjusting their working conditions or their working hours. Where such adjustment is not technically and/or objectively feasible, or cannot reasonably be required on duly substantiated grounds, the employer shall take the necessary measures to move the worker concerned to another job. Where transfer to another activity is not feasible, the workers in question must be granted leave for the whole of the period considered necessary to protect their safety and health.

Work environment

Pregnant workers may under no circumstances be obliged to perform duties for which the assessment has revealed a risk of exposure to the agents and working conditions listed in Annex II, Section A, and, in the case of workers who are breastfeeding, to the agents and working conditions listed in Annex II, Section B.

Night work

Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the workers concerned are not obliged to perform night work during their pregnancy and for a period following childbirth, subject to submission of a medical certificate, by transferring them to daytime work where possible, or otherwise by excusing them from work or extending maternity leave.

Maternity leave

Maternity leave must be for an uninterrupted period of at least 14 weeks before and/or after delivery, two of which must occur before the delivery.

Ante-natal examinations

Pregnant workers have the right to take leave from work without loss of pay to enable them to attend ante-natal examinations if such examinations take place during working hours.

Protection against discriminatory dismissal

Women may not be dismissed for reasons related to their condition for the period from the beginning of their pregnancy to the end of the period of leave from work. In the event of dismissal, the employer must give good grounds in writing. Measures should be taken to protect such workers from the consequences of unlawful dismissal.

Employment rights

The employment rights relating to the employment contract, including the maintenance of a payment to, and/or entitlement to an adequate allowance for the pregnant workers, workers who have recently given birth and workers who are breastfeeding* must be insured. In the case of maternity leave, the pay and allowance shall be deemed adequate if it guarantees income at least equivalent to that which the worker concerned would receive in the event of a break in her activities on grounds connected with her state of health, subject to any ceiling laid down under national legislation. This right to pay or to an allowance may be subject to certain conditions, though not the condition that a period of work of more than 12 months should have immediately preceded the presumed date of delivery.

Defence of rights

The Member States shall introduce into their national legal systems such measures as are necessary to enable workers who consider themselves wronged by non-compliance with the obligations arising from this Directive to pursue their claims by judicial process after recourse to other competent authorities.

Application

Technical adjustments to Annex I shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 17 of Directive 89/391/EEC. Annex II may be amended only in accordance with Article 138 of the EC Treaty.

The Directive may not have the effect of reducing the level of protection afforded to pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth and/or who are breastfeeding as compared with the situation which exists in each Member State on the date on which it is adopted.

Member States shall report to the Commission every five years on the practical implementation of the Directive, indicating the points of view of the social partners.

Context

The objective of this Directive is to take minimum measures to protect the health and safety of pregnant workers, workers who have recently given birth and women who are breastfeeding, who must be considered to be a specific risk group.

The Directive is a follow-up to Framework Directive 89/391/EEC concerning the implementation of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of pregnant workers, workers who have recently given birth and women who are breastfeeding.

Key terms used in the act
  • Pregnant worker, worker who has recently given birth or worker who is breastfeeding: a pregnant worker, a worker who has recently given birth or a worker who is breastfeeding, and who informs her employer of her condition, in accordance with national legislation and/or national practice.

REFERENCES

Act

Date of entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 92/85/EEC

24.11.1992

19.10.1994

L 348 of 28.11.1992

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2007/30/EC

28.6.2007

31.12.2012

L165 of 27.6.2007

Related Acts


Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 October 2008 amending Council Directive

92/85/EEC

on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or who are breastfeeding [

COM(2008) 637

final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Proposal aims at improving the protection and rights of pregnant women, women who have recently given birth or who are breastfeeding, in order to better protect the interests of mothers and their children.

Maternity leave is extended from 14 to 18 weeks. This corresponds to 12 non-compulsory weeks that women can choose to take before or after confinement and six compulsory weeks after confinement. If the actual date of confinement differs from the presumed date, the period of leave before the birth could be extended without having an effect on the post-natal period. Moreover, additional leave may be granted in the event of premature childbirth, children hospitalised at birth, the birth of children with disabilities and multiple births.

The Proposal should also improve protection for working women and incite them to return to work after giving birth. Thus, during their maternity leave, they should receive a payment that is equal to their full salary. Member States may also however cap the allowance at the same level as for sick leave. In addition, women will have more leeway to choose the time at which they take the non-compulsory part of their leave (before or after birth). They will no longer be obliged to take a specific part of their leave before the birth, which is currently the case in some Member States.

At the end of maternity leave they have the right to return to work under equivalent conditions and to benefit from any improvements that have been made to working conditions. They may also request a re-examination of their working hours in order to better reconcile professional and family life.

Any breach of the Directive should be considered as discrimination. The Member States shall take the measures necessary to make its application effective. They should ensure in particular that their judicial systems provide rules that are favourable to victims: the burden of proof should fall upon the respondent, plaintiffs should be protected against any reprisals and dissuasive penalties should be implemented.

Communication from the Commission of 5 October 2000 on the Guidelines on the assessment of the chemical, physical and biological agents and industrial processes considered hazardous for the safety or health of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding [COM(2000)466 – Not published in the Official Journal].
These guidelines apply to the assessment of chemical, physical and biological agents and industrial processes considered hazardous for the health and safety of such workers. They also apply to physical movements and postures, mental and physical fatigue and other types of physical and mental stress.

Commission Report of 15 March 1999 on the implementation of Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the implementation of measures to encourage improvements in the health and safety of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding [COM(1999) 100 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The report provides a detailed breakdown of the rights of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding in the Member States of the Union. It highlights specific problems with implementation which have led to infringement proceedings. These include the outright ban by several Member States on night work for pregnant workers, and the lack of any compulsory maternity leave.
The report identifies other areas of concern, such as differences over which type of workers fall within the scope of the Directive, the difficulty in squaring health and security considerations with women’s entitlement to non-discriminatory treatment, and the right to return to a job.

Exposure to mechanical vibration

Exposure to mechanical vibration

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exposure to mechanical vibration

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 mechanical vibration

Improving the protection of workers against the risks arising from exposure to mechanical vibration by laying down minimum requirements with regard to the protection of health and safety.

2) Document or Iniciative

Directive 2002/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (vibration) (sixteenth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC) [Official Journal L 177, 06.07.2002]

3) Summary

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

Following the adoption of Framework Directive 89/391/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work, it was considered necessary to legislate on the specific problem of exposure to mechanical vibration. Vibration poses a potential risk to workers as it may give rise to musculoskeletal, neurological and vascular disorders. Directive 2002/44/EC applies without prejudice to more stringent and/or specific provisions contained in the Framework Directive.

The Directive specifies two different types of vibration:

  • vibration which, when transmitted to the human hand-arm system, entails risks to the health and safety of workers, in particular vascular, bone or joint, neurological or muscular disorders; and
  • vibration which, when transmitted to the whole body, entails risks to the health and safety of workers, in particular lower-back morbidity and trauma of the spine.

The Directive lays down exposure limit values and exposure “action” values (above which employers must take measures):

  • For hand-arm vibration, the daily exposure limit value standardised to an eight-hour reference period shall be 5 m/s2 and the daily exposure action value standardised to an eight-hour reference period shall be 2,5 m/s2.
  • For whole-body vibration, the daily exposure limit value standardised to an eight-hour reference period shall be 1,15 m/s2 or, at the choice of the Member State concerned, a vibration dose value of 21 m/s1,75, and the daily exposure action value standardised to an eight-hour reference period shall be 0,5 m/s2 or, at the choice of the Member State concerned, a vibration dose value of 9,1 m/s1,75.

Workers’ exposure to vibration shall be assessed or measured on the basis of the technical specifications listed in the Annex to the Directive.

OBLIGATION OF EMPLOYERS

Determination and assessment of risks

When carrying out the risk assessment provided for in Framework Directive 89/391/EEC, the employer shall assess and, if necessary, measure the levels of mechanical vibration to which workers are exposed. The level of exposure to mechanical vibration may be assessed by means of observation of specific working practices and reference to relevant information provided by the manufacturer of the equipment. That operation shall be distinguished from measurement, which requires the use of specific apparatus and appropriate methodology. These two operations shall be planned and carried out by competent services at regular intervals. The data obtained from the assessment and/or measurement of the level of exposure to mechanical vibration shall be preserved in a suitable form so as to permit consultation at a later stage

In accordance with Framework Directive 89/391/EEC, the employer shall give particular attention, when carrying out the risk assessment, to the following:

  • the level, type and duration of exposure, including any exposure to intermittent vibration or repeated shocks;
  • the exposure limit values and the exposure action values laid down in Article 3 of this Directive;
  • any effects concerning the health and safety of workers at particularly sensitive risk;
  • any indirect effects on worker safety resulting from interactions between mechanical vibration and the workplace or other work equipment;
  • information provided by the manufacturers of work equipment in accordance with the relevant Community Directives;
  • the existence of replacement equipment designed to reduce the levels of exposure to mechanical vibration;
  • the extension of exposure to whole-body vibration beyond normal working hours under the employer’s responsibility;
  • specific working conditions such as low temperatures;
  • appropriate information obtained from health surveillance, including published information, as far as possible.

The risk assessment shall be recorded on a suitable medium and be kept up-to-date on a regular basis.

Provisions aimed at avoiding or reducing exposure

On the basis of the risk assessment, the employer shall determine what measures to take. Taking account of technical progress and of the availability of measures to control the risk at source, the risks arising from exposure to mechanical vibration shall be eliminated at their source or reduced to a minimum.

Once the exposure “action” values (referred to under point 3 above) are exceeded, the employer shall establish and implement a programme of technical and/or organisational measures intended to reduce to a minimum exposure to mechanical vibration and the attendant risks, taking into account in particular:

  • other working methods;
  • the choice of appropriate work equipment;
  • the provision of auxiliary equipment that reduces the risk of injuries caused by vibration, such as seats that effectively reduce whole-body vibration and handles which reduce the vibration transmitted to the hand-arm system;
  • appropriate maintenance programmes for work equipment, the workplace and workplace systems;
  • the design and layout of workplaces and work stations;
  • adequate information and training for workers;
  • limitation of the duration and intensity of the exposure;
  • appropriate work schedules with adequate rest periods;
  • the provision of clothing to protect exposed workers from cold and damp.

In any event, workers shall not be exposed above the exposure limit value. If, despite the measures taken by the employer, the exposure limit value is exceeded, the employer shall take immediate action to reduce exposure below the exposure limit value. He shall identify the reasons why the exposure limit value has been exceeded, and shall amend the protection and prevention measures accordingly in order to prevent it being exceeded again.

Worker information and training

In accordance with Framework Directive 89/391/EEC, the employer shall ensure that workers who are exposed to the risks from mechanical vibration at work and/or their representatives receive information and training relating to risks from mechanical vibration, concerning in particular:

  • the measures taken to implement this Directive in order to eliminate or reduce to a minimum the risks from mechanical vibration;
  • the exposure limit values and the exposure action values;
  • the results of the assessment and measurement of the mechanical vibration carried out in accordance with Article 4 of this Directive and the potential injury arising from the work equipment in use;
  • why and how to detect and report signs of injury;
  • the circumstances in which workers are entitled to health surveillance;
  • safe working practices.

HEALTH SURVEILLANCE

Prevention and diagnosis

Member States shall adopt provisions to ensure the appropriate health surveillance of workers. Health surveillance shall be intended to prevent and diagnose rapidly any disorder linked with exposure to mechanical vibration. Such surveillance shall be appropriate where:

  • the exposure of workers to vibration is such that a link can be established between that exposure and an identifiable illness or harmful effects on health; and
  • it is probable that the illness or the effects occur in a worker’s particular working conditions.

In any event, workers exposed to mechanical vibration in excess of the “action” values shall be entitled to appropriate health surveillance.

Member States shall establish arrangements to ensure that, for each worker who undergoes health surveillance, individual health records are kept. The individual worker shall, at his request, have access to the health records relating to him personally.

Where, as a result of health surveillance, a worker is found to have an identifiable disease or adverse health effect which is considered by a doctor or occupational health-care professional to be the result of exposure to mechanical vibration at work:

  • the worker shall be informed of the result which relates to him personally and shall receive information and advice;
  • the employer shall be informed of any significant findings from the health surveillance, taking into account any medical confidentiality;
  • the employer shall review the risk assessment;
  • the employer shall review the measures provided for to eliminate or reduce risks, including the possibility of assigning the worker to alternative work where there is no risk of further exposure;
  • the employer shall arrange continued health surveillance and provide for a review of the health status of any other worker who has been similarly exposed.

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Transitional periods

With regard to implementation of the obligations referred to under point 8 above (workers shall not be exposed above the exposure limit value), Member States shall be entitled to make use of a maximum transitional period of five years from 6 July 2005 where work equipment is used which was given to workers before 6 July 2007 and which does not permit the exposure limit values to be respected, taking into account the latest technical advances and/or the organisational measures taken.

With regard to equipment used in the agriculture and forestry sectors, Member States shall be entitled to extend the maximum transitional period by up to four years to a total of nine years.

Derogations

In the case of sea and air transport, Member States may grant derogations in duly justified circumstances with respect to whole-body vibration where, given the state of the art and the specific characteristics of workplaces, it is not possible to comply with the exposure limit value despite the technical and/or organisational measures taken.

Where the exposure of a worker to mechanical vibration is usually below the exposure “action” values but varies markedly from time to time and may occasionally exceed the exposure limit value, Member States may also grant derogations. However, the exposure value averaged over 40 hours must be less than the exposure limit value and there must be evidence to show that the risks from the pattern of exposure to the work are lower than those from exposure at the exposure limit value.

These derogations shall be granted by Member States after consultation of the two sides of industry in accordance with national laws and practice. They must be accompanied by conditions which guarantee, taking into account the special circumstances, that the resulting risks are reduced to a minimum and that the workers concerned are subject to increased health surveillance.

Every four years Member States shall forward to the Commission a list of derogations, indicating the exact reasons and circumstances which made them decide to grant the derogations.

Technical amendments to the Directive

For the purpose of adopting purely technical amendments to the Annex, the Commission shall be assisted by a committee composed of the representatives of the Member States as provided for in the Framework Directive.

Implementation report

Every five years, the Member States shall provide a report to the Commission on the practical implementation of this Directive. On the basis of those reports, the Commission shall carry out an overall assessment of the implementation of the Directive and shall inform the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work thereof.

Act

Date
of entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Directive 2002/44/EC 

06.07.2002

06.07.2005

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Exposure to noise

Exposure to noise

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exposure to noise

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 noise

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2003/10/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 February 2003 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (noise)

Seventeenth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC [See amending acts].

Summary

EXPOSURE LIMIT VALUES AND EXPOSURE ACTION VALUES

The physical parameters used to measure noise are as follows: peak sound pressure (maximum value of instantaneous noise pressure), daily noise exposure level and weekly noise exposure level.
The exposure limit value is fixed at 87 decibels (taking into account the attenuation provided by the individual hearing protectors worn by the workers) and the exposure action values are fixed at 80 decibels (lower value) and 85 decibels (upper value).

OBLIGATIONS OF EMPLOYERS

Determination and assessment of risks

In carrying out the obligations laid down in the framework Directive on the improvement of the health of workers at work, the employer, via the intermediary of the competent services, must assess and, if necessary, measure the levels of noise to which workers are exposed. The results of this assessment must be recorded on a suitable medium and kept up to date on a regular basis.

The employer must give particular attention, when carrying out the risk assessment, to the following:

  • the level, type and duration of exposure, including any exposure to impulsive noise;
  • the exposure limit values and the exposure action values;
  • any effects concerning the health and safety of workers belonging to particularly sensitive risk groups;
  • as far as technically achievable, any effects on workers’ health and safety resulting from interactions between noise and work-related ototoxic substances, and between noise and vibrations;
  • any indirect effects on workers’ health and safety resulting from interactions between noise and warning signals or other sounds;
  • information on noise emission provided by manufacturers of work equipment in accordance with the relevant Community directives;
  • the existence of alternative work equipment designed to reduce the noise emission;
  • the extension of exposure to noise beyond normal working hours under the employer’s responsibility;
  • appropriate information obtained following health surveillance;
  • the availability of hearing protectors with adequate attenuation characteristics.

Provisions aimed at avoiding or reducing exposure

Taking account of technical progress and of the availability of measures to control the risk at source, the risks arising from exposure to noise must be eliminated at their source or reduced to a minimum. The reduction of the basic risks must be based on the general principles of prevention set out in Directive 89/391/EEC and take into account in particular:

  • other working methods that require less exposure to noise;
  • the choice of appropriate work equipment;
  • the design and layout of workplaces and work stations;
  • adequate information and training to instruct workers to use work equipment correctly in order to reduce their exposure to noise to a minimum;
  • noise reduction by technical methods: reducing airborne noise (shields, enclosures, sound-absorbant coverings) and reducing structure-borne noise (dampening, isolation);
  • appropriate maintenance programmes for work equipment, the work place and workplace systems;
  • organisation of work to reduce noise: limitation of the duration and intensity of exposure and appropriate work schedules with adequate rest periods.

Workplaces where workers are likely to be exposed to noise exceeding the exposure action values should be marked with appropriate signs and access to them should be restricted.

Where, owing to the nature of the activity, a worker benefits from the use of rest facilities under the responsibility of the employer, noise in these facilities must be reduced to a level compatible with their purpose and the conditions of use.

Personal protection

If the risks arising from exposure to noise cannot be prevented by other means, properly fitting individual hearing protectors must be made available to workers and used by them in accordance with Directive 89/656/EEC on the use of personal protective equipment:

  • where noise exposure exceeds the lower exposure action values, the employer must make individual hearing protectors available to workers;
  • where noise exposure matches or exceeds the upper exposure action values, individual hearing protectors must be used;
  • the individual hearing protectors must be so selected as to eliminate the risk to hearing or to reduce the risk to a minimum.

Limitation of exposure

Under no circumstances may the exposure of the worker exceed the exposure limit values. If, despite the measures taken to implement this Directive, exposures above the exposure limit values are detected, the employer must:

  • take immediate action to reduce the exposure to below the exposure limit values,
  • identify the reasons why overexposure has occurred and amend the protection and prevention measures in order to avoid any recurrence.

Worker information and training

The employer must ensure that workers who are exposed to noise at work at or above the lower exposure action values, and/or their representatives, receive information and training relating to risks resulting from exposure to noise concerning, in particular:

  • the nature of such risks;
  • the measures taken to implement this Directive in order to eliminate or reduce to a minimum the risks from noise, including the circumstances in which the measures apply;
  • the exposure limit values and the exposure action values;
  • the results of the assessment and measurement of the noise carried out, together with an explanation of their significance and potential risks;
  • the correct use of hearing protectors;
  • why and how to detect and report signs of hearing damage;
  • the circumstances in which workers are entitled to health surveillance and the purpose of health surveillance;
  • safe working practices to minimise exposure to noise.

Consultation and participation of workers

Consultation and participation of workers and/or of their representatives must take place on the matters covered by this Directive, in particular:

  • the assessment of risks and identification of measures to be taken;
  • the actions aimed at eliminating or reducing risks arising from exposure to noise;
  • the choice of individual hearing protectors.

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Health surveillance

When the noise levels present a health risk, Member States must adopt provisions to ensure the appropriate health surveillance of workers (preservation of the hearing function):

  • workers whose exposure exceeds the upper exposure action values have the right to have their hearing checked;
  • workers whose exposure to noise exceed the lower exposure action values have the right to preventive audiometric testing.

Member States must establish arrangements to ensure that individual health records are made and kept up to date for these workers. These records may be consulted at a later date and are accessible to the workers concerned.

Where, as a result of surveillance of the hearing function, a worker is found to have an identifiable hearing damage, a doctor shall assess whether the damage is likely to be the result of exposure to noise at work. If this is the case:

  • the worker must be informed by the doctor or other suitably qualified person of the result which relates to him or her personally.
  • the employer must review the risk assessment;
  • the employer must review the measures provided for to eliminate or reduce risks;
  • the employer must take into account the advice of the occupational health-care professional or other suitably qualified person in implementing any measures required to eliminate or reduce risk, including the possibility of assigning the worker to alternative work where there is no risk of further exposure;
  • the employer must arrange continued health surveillance and provide for a review of the health status of any other worker who has been similarly exposed.

Derogations

In exceptional situations where, because of the nature of the work, the full and proper use of individual hearing protectors would be likely to cause greater risk to health or safety than not using such protectors, Member States may grant derogations from the provisions concerning personal protection and limitation of exposure.

Such derogations must be reviewed every four years and withdrawn as soon as the justifying circumstances no longer obtain.

Code of conduct

In the music and entertainment sectors, Member States may have recourse to a transitional period of up to a maximum of two years to prepare a code of conduct providing for practical guidelines to help workers and employers in these sectors to meet their legal obligations as laid down in this Directive.

Reporting

Every five years Member States must provide a report to the Commission on the practical implementation of this Directive. On the basis of those reports, the Commission shall carry out an overall assessment.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2003/10/EC

15.02.2003

15.02.2006
For the music and entertainment sector: 15.02.2008
For personnel on board seagoing vessels: 15.02.2011

OJ L 42 of 15.02.2003

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2007/30/EC

28.6.2007

31.12.2012

OJ L 165 of 27.6.2007

Exposure to electromagnetic fields

Exposure to electromagnetic fields

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exposure to electromagnetic fields

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 electromagnetic fields

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2004/40/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields) (18th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC) [See amending acts].

Summary

This Directive forms part of a “package” of four directives on the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents: noise, vibration, electromagnetic fields and optical radiation.
It is an individual directive under framework Directive 89/391/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work.

SCOPE

The Directive provides for measures to protect workers from the risks related to electromagnetic fields. However, it does not address the long-term effects, including the carcinogenic effects, that could result from exposure to electrical, magnetic and electromagnetic fields, for which there is no conclusive scientific data establishing a causal link.

Moreover, the Directive does not yet provide for exposure limits for static magnetic fields, for which further scientific evaluations are awaited.

The measures foreseen create a minimum basis of protection for all workers in the Union, leaving the Member States the option of keeping or adopting more favourable provisions. Moreover, its implementation cannot be used to justify any regression of the (possibly more favourable) provisions that apply in each Member State before its entry into force.

EXPOSURE LIMIT VALUES AND ACTION VALUES

The Directive lays down two types of value for exposure of workers:

  • “exposure limit values” defined in Table 1 of the Annex to the Directive on the basis of the various frequencies that are recognised as having harmful effects on the human cardiovascular system or the central nervous system or as being capable of causing whole-body heat stress or excessive localised heating of tissues;
  • “action values”, or values above which employers must take the measures specified in the Directive. Compliance with these action values will ensure compliance with the relevant exposure limit values. These action values are obtained from the guidelines laid down by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). They are set out in Table 2 of the Annex to the Directive (13 frequency ranges that apply to all electromagnetic fields and are based on directly measurable parameters).

OBLIGATIONS OF EMPLOYERS

The Directive lays down various types of obligation with which employers must comply.

Determination of exposure and assessment of risks

  • assessment, measurement and calculation, by the appropriate services and at regular intervals, of the levels of electromagnetic fields to which workers are exposed;
  • saving of the results of this assessment on a suitable data storage medium so that they can be consulted at a later stage;
  • consideration in the assessment of risks (among other things, of the level, frequency spectrum, duration and type of exposure), of the indirect effects, such as interference with medical electronic equipment and devices, fires and explosions resulting from ignition of flammable materials.

Provisions designed to avoid or reduce risks

Once the action values are exceeded, employers must devise and implement an action plan comprising technical and/or organisational measures intended to prevent exposure from exceeding the exposure limit values (modification of working methods, choice of appropriate work equipment, better design of work stations, etc.). However, employers are not obliged to do so if they prove that there are no risks to the health of workers.

If, despite the measures taken by the employer to limit the risks, the exposure limit values are exceeded, the employer must take immediate action in order to reduce exposure to an authorised level.

Worker information and training

Exposed workers or their representatives must receive all necessary information and training, particularly relating to the outcome of the risk assessment, the measures taken by the employer, safe working practices, the detection of adverse effects and the circumstances in which workers are entitled to health surveillance.

Consultation and participation of workers

The Directive restricts itself to the requirements laid down in framework Directive 89/391/EEC.

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Health surveillance

The Directive provides for the requirement of appropriate surveillance of the health of exposed workers with the objective of preventing any adverse effects due to exposure to electromagnetic fields.
Where exposure exceeds the limit values, a medical examination is foreseen. If it transpires that the health of the workers concerned has been harmed as a result of this exposure, a reassessment of the risks must be carried out.
Measures are also foreseen to ensure that the doctor responsible for the health surveillance has access to the results of the risk assessment, while the workers concerned will be able to have access to their own personal health records, at their request.

Sanctions

The Member States must provide for adequate sanctions in the event of infringement of the national provisions transposing the Directive.

Reports

Member States must provide a report to the Commission every five years on the practical implementation of the Directive, indicating the points of view of the social partners.

Every five years, the Commission must inform the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health Protection at Work of the content of the reports of the Member States. It must also send them an assessment of developments in this field, in particular as regards exposure to static magnetic fields.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2004/40/EC

30.04.2004

30.10.2013

OJ L 184 of 24.05.2004

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2007/30/EC

28.6.2007

31.12.2012

OJ L 165 of 27.6.2007

Directive 2008/46/CE

26.4.2008

OJ L 114 of 26.4.2008

Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008

11.12.2008

OJ L 311 of 21.11.2008

Directive 2012/11/EU

24.4.2012

30.10.2013

OJ L 110 of 24.4.2012

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2004/40/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference purpose only.

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