RCS workplace exposure prevention

Industry has been and remains a strong advocate of the prevention of workers exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS).

Prescribed regulatory occupational exposure limits for RCS exist in almost all European Member States (see OELs list). In addition, the European industry has voluntarily developed a prevention plan targeted at exposure to respirable particles of crystalline silica.

In 2006, industry (employers and employees of 14 industry sectors) developed a Good Practice Guide on Workers’ Health Protection through the Good Handling and Use of Crystalline Silica and Products Containing it. This is the basis of a Social Dialogue Agreement and contains 65 task sheets describing good practice techniques for many work activities. The task sheets identify appropriate control measures that will assist employers in reducing exposure levels to respirable crystalline silica to a minimum.

Published in the EC Official Journal (OJ 2006/C279/02), translated into 22 languages, the Agreement gave rise to the biggest ever awareness campaign on the risks related to exposure to RCS. The Agreement includes a mandatory reporting every two years of its application on site and the effects are visible on the workplaces concerned. The signatories of the Agreement are committed to pursue more research related to the risks of exposure and to regularly update and complete the good practices.

Full information available at www.nepsi.eu.

On 13 May 2016, the EU Commission has issued a proposal [2016/0130(COD)] to include “work involving exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust generated by a work process” in Annex I of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (2004/37/EC). It proposes the establishment of a binding occupational exposure limit at 0.1 mg/m³ (respirable fraction, 8h TWA) in Annex III – limit value approved by the tripartite Advisory Committee for Safety and Health.

The Directive proposal will be subject to the ordinary adoption procedure (through the Council and Parliament) which usually last around 6 months, then there will be a transition period of two years after entry into force of the Directive for the Member States to transpose the Directive in their national legislation.

RCS Workplace Legislation

NEPSI