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7 February 2019

Publication of the directive introducing new limit values into the European legislation on carcinogens

On 31 January 2019, the Official Journal of the European Union published the text of Directive 2019/130. This directive constitutes the second step of the process of revising the Directive on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work (CMD).

The revision of the CMD was launched in May 2016, with the first step ending with the adoption of the Directive 2017/2398 of 12 December 2017.

The second step currently being concluded introduces six new occupational exposure limit values for carcinogens. The final text, the result of a compromise between the European Parliament and Council of Ministers, constitutes a major improvement over the European Commission's original proposal introduced in August 2017. Thanks to amendments voted in by a very large majority of MEPs, workplace diesel engine exhaust emissions have been included in the Directive's scope. The binding occupational exposure limit values (BOELV) for these emissions is set at 0.05 mg/m³, a value calculated on the basis of elemental carbon. It must be implemented in EU Member States by 21 February 2023 at the latest, though for underground mining and tunnel construction the deadline is three years later, i.e. 21 February 2026. Also included in the CMD's scope through this second revision step is work involving the uptake through the skin of mineral oils previously used in internal combustion engines. About one million workers in Europe are subject to this form of occupational exposure.

The decision on diesel engine exhaust emissions will affect 3.6 million workers in the EU and is expected to lead to 6000 fewer deaths a year through lung cancer.

The process of revising the directive is ongoing, with the third step expected to be concluded in the next few weeks with the adoption of an agreement between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The European Commission is expected to give a statement before 31 March 2019 on the inclusion of reprotoxic substances into the Directive's scope, one of the most important aspects of the current revision process.

Member States will have to transpose the new directive by 21 February 2021 at the latest. While the directive sets down minimum requirements, trade union organisations will be fighting hard to obtain higher levels of protection for life and health as part of the transposition into national legislation.

Download the text of the new directive  FR EN 

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