What is the NEPSI Agreement?

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 more than 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 already 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.

The NEPSI Agreement is a unique preventive tool to improve workers’ protection on the workplace thanks to the RCS dust reduction measures described in the evolving Good Practices Guide. Recital 19 of Directive 2017/2398 expressly states that: Guides and examples of good practices produced by the Commission, the Member States or the social partners, or other initiatives, such as the Social Dialogue ‘Agreement on Workers’ Health Protection Through the Good Handling and Use of Crystalline Silica and Products Containing it’ (NEPSi) are valuable and necessary instruments to complement regulatory measures and in particular to support the effective implementation of limit values, and should therefore be given serious consideration. They include measures to prevent or minimise exposure such as water-assisted suppression to prevent dust from becoming airborne in the case of respirable crystalline silica.