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Exposure to chemical agents

Exposure to chemical agents

 

SUMMARY OF:

Directive 98/24/EC on the protection of the health and safety of workers from the risks related to chemical agents at work

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DIRECTIVE?

It sets out minimum requirements throughout the European Union (EU) for protecting workers from risks to their safety and health arising, or likely to arise, from the effects of chemical agents present at the workplace or as a result of any work activity involving those agents.

KEY POINTS

Scope

  • Directive 98/24/EC is a ‘daughter’ directive of framework Directive 89/391/EEC that introduces measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work (see summary). Directive 89/391/EC, which lays down minimum requirements for protecting workers from health and safety risks from chemicals, applies in full, without prejudice to rules that are more stringent or specific in Directive 98/24/EC.
  • Directive 98/24/EC applies to workers exposed to hazardous chemicals when its rules are more favourable than those of Directive 2004/37/EC on protecting workers from risks from carcinogens and mutagens (see summary).

Employers’ obligations

  • Assessing risk. Employers must determine whether any hazardous chemicals are present in the workplace and, if so, assess the health and safety risks they might pose. This assessment must be kept up to date.
  • Preventing risks. Employers must take the necessary preventive measures to eliminate or reduce risks to the minimum. They should provide suitable equipment and reduce the duration of any exposure and safe handling, storage and transport of hazardous chemicals. Where possible, chemicals or processes must be replaced with less dangerous ones.
  • Occupational exposure limit values and biological limit values. The legislation requires indicative and binding occupational exposure limit values together with biological limit values to be established.
  • Dealing with accidents, incidents and emergencies. Employers must draw up action plans so that appropriate action, including informing those concerned, is taken when an accident occurs. These must be accompanied by regular safety drills and first-aid facilities.
  • Informing and training workers. Employers must provide workers with results of risk assessments, information on hazardous chemical substances on the premises and the relevant occupational exposure limit values. They must also supply training and details on appropriate precautions to be taken.

Bans

The directive bans the production, manufacture and use of certain chemicals. These are listed in Annex III. Exemptions are allowed under certain circumstances such as scientific research and testing. In such cases, employers must provide the authorities with information, such as the quantities to be used and the number of workers likely to be involved.

Health monitoring

EU Member States must arrange appropriate health monitoring for workers whose health may be at risk. Individual health and exposure records are required.

Classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures

Directive 2014/27/EU amends Directive 98/24/EC (and several other directives), bringing it into line with the new system laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 for classifying, labelling and packaging substances and mixtures (see summary). This identifies hazardous chemicals and informs users of the related risks through standard symbols and wording on packaging labels and safety data sheets.

Reporting

Member States must report to the European Commission every 5 years on the implementation of the various measures covered by the directive.

Delegated acts

  • Regulation (EU) 2019/1243 amends Directive 98/24/EC giving the Commission powers, from 26 July 2019, to adopt delegated acts to make strictly technical amendments to its annexes, and to supplement that directive by establishing or revising indicative occupational exposure limit values. However, those amendments cannot modifythe exposure limit values set out in the annexes to the directive.
  • Member States must keep workers’ and employers’ organisations informed of indicative occupational exposure limit values set at EU level.

FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

  • Directive 98/24/EC has applied since 25 May 1998 and had to become law in the Member States by 5 May 2001.
  • In Slovenia, its application was deferred until 31 December 2005.

BACKGROUND

For further information, see:

MAIN DOCUMENT

Council Directive 98/24/EC of 7 April 1998 on the protection of the health and safety of workers from the risks related to chemical agents at work (fourteenth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC) (OJ L 131, 5.5.1998, pp. 11–23).

Successive amendments to Directive 98/24/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, amending and repealing Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC, and amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (OJ L 353, 31.12.2008, pp. 1–1355).

See consolidated version.

Directive 2004/37/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work (Sixth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Council Directive 89/391/EEC) (codified version) (OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, pp. 50-76). Text republished in corrigendum (OJ L 229, 29.6.2004, pp. 23–34).

See consolidated version.

Council Directive 92/58/EEC of 24 June 1992 on the minimum requirements for the provision of safety and/or health signs at work (ninth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16 (1) of Directive 89/391/EEC) (OJ L 245, 26.8.1992, pp. 23–42).

See consolidated version.

Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work (OJ L 183, 29.6.1989, pp. 1–8).

See consolidated version.

last update 16.12.2021

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