On 5 April 2018, the European Commission launched its proposal for a third amendment to Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work (CMD). It aims to add occupational exposure limit values for five substances. Until now, there have been two amendments to this directive, and with more promised, it is crucial to ensure the best outcome in this process for both employers and workers.
Ceemet’s key messages:
Ceemet agrees that there is need for further actions at an EU level to protect workers from exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at the workplace. However, these limit values must be feasible for industry to implement, based on scientific evidence, bound by economic feasibility tests and based on an agreement in the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health (ACSH). We must set OELs which are evidence based, proportionate and measurable. Furthermore, transitional measures should be implemented where the new OEL will adversely affect industry.
This adverse effect on industry will be particularly acute within our sector as companies, including SMEs, within our industries find it more difficult to work in closed or automated systems. They are therefore more likely to work with ‘open’ systems, which makes it more difficult to comply with the proposed limit values. OELs need to be set in a way which reduces worker exposure, whilst still allowing SME’s to comply. Furthermore, the data used to derive these limit values must be current and relevant, in the current Impact Assessment of this amendment to the directive, the data is referred to as “scarce” or “unreliable”.
While we welcome the revision of this Directive and see its benefit as a method to protect workers from exposure to carcinogens and mutagens, there are a number of topics with which we take issue.