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New Stricter Limits ​​for Carcinogens & Mutagens

New European Directive 2017/2398 amends Directive 2004/37 / EC

The new European Directive 2017/2398 amends Directive 2004/37 / EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work. This amendment should contribute to better protection of workers by setting appropriate limit values ​​for carcinogens and mutagens.

The main modifications

Reprotoxic agents

The Commission should consider the possibility of including reprotoxic substances in the scope of the Directive before the end of the first quarter of 2019 at the latest and may submit a legislative proposal on this subject.

Hexavalent chromium compounds

The exposure limit value is currently set at 0.010 mg / m³ for a period of 5 years after the date of transposition (until 17 January 2025) and will then be lowered to 0.005 mg / m³. A derogation has been introduced for welding and plasma jet cutting processes or similar processes that generate fumes, with an exposure limit value of 0.025 mg / m³ for a period of 5 years after the date of transposition ( until January 17, 2025) and 0.005 mg / m³ for the next period.

Dusts of hardwood

The limit value for exposure is currently set at 3 mg / m³ for a period of 3 years after transposition of the Directive (until 17 January 2023) and 2 mg / m³ for the following period.

Crystalline silica dust alveolar

The Commission has undertaken to examine the need to modify the limit value for respirable crystalline silica dust at the next assessment of the implementation of the Directive. The limit value mentioned in the annex is 0.1 mg / m³.

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Continuation of medical surveillance after the end of the exhibition

The doctor or the authority responsible for the medical surveillance of workers in the Member States may recommend that medical surveillance continue after the end of the exposure as long as they consider it necessary to preserve the health of the worker concerned.

11 carcinogens

The Annex to the Directive sets exposure limits for 11 new carcinogens in addition to those covered by the current Directive adopted in 2004:

  • crystalline silica dust alveolar;
  • 1,2-epoxypropane;
  • 1,3-butadiene;
  • 2-nitropropane;
  • acrylamide;
  • certain chromium (VI) compounds;
  • ethylene oxide;
  • o-toluidine;
  • refractory ceramic fibers;
  • bromoethylene;
  • hydrazine.

Annex III to Directive 2004/37, which lays down these limit values, is replaced by the text mentioned in the Annex to the new Directive 2017/2398.

Hierarchy of measures

Taking into account worker exposure and then comparing it with the new limit values ​​is not enough. The employer must take all measures to restrict or eliminate the use of carcinogens or mutagens.

To do this, the risks associated with the exposure of workers to carcinogens or mutagens should be identified and assessed. Exposure to potential hazards should be prevented by: replacement with harmless or less hazardous substances, use of a closed system, or other measures to reduce worker exposure.

Transposition into Belgian law

Member States must bring into force the necessary legal and regulatory provisions by 17 January 2020 at the latest in order to comply with the new directive. The directive must therefore be transposed into Belgian law by 17 January 2020 at the latest.

More information

The text of this directive is available on the EUR-Lex website of the European Union:

Directive (EU) 2017/2398 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2017 amending Directive 2004/37 / EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work

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BeSWIC is the Belgian knowledge center on well-being at work. It was designed to gather all the information on well-being at work. BeSWIC is the abbreviation for "Belgian Safe Work Information Center".
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