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Preventing and reducing chemically induced illnesses and injuries at work

Preventing and reducing chemically induced illnesses and injuries at work

The European Union (EU), in addition to taking its own measures to ensure chemicals used in the workplace are safe, supports international action designed to achieve the same goal. This decision authorises EU countries to ratify the International Labour Organisation chemicals convention No 170.


Council Decision of 28 January 2014 authorising Member States to ratify, in the interests of the European Union, the Convention concerning Safety in the Use of Chemicals at Work, 1990, of the International Labour Organisation (Convention No 170) (2014/52/EU).

The EU actively encourages the ratification of International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions that contribute to its own efforts to promote decent work for all, both inside and outside its borders, including protecting and improving workers’ health and safety.

In early 2014, the EU adopted a decision to enable EU countries to ratify the 1990 ILO Convention concerning Safety in the Use of Chemicals at Work (Convention No 170). The contents of this convention are covered to a large extent by existing EU legislation on the classification, packaging and labelling of chemical substances.

As a result, parts of the convention fall within the EU’s competence. The EU as such cannot ratify the convention - only countries can. This decision paves the way for the EU countries to ratify the convention.

General principle

ILO Chemicals Convention No 170 states as a general principle that organisations of employers and workers that are most representative must be consulted on the measures to be taken to ensure the safe use of chemicals.

Classification of chemicals

The convention contains information on the systems used to classify chemicals according to the type and degree of their risk for health, on their labelling and marking and on the use of safety data sheets (sheets providing, for example, instructions for the use, handling, disposal and transport of each chemical).

Obligations on suppliers

Chemical suppliers, whether manufacturers, importers or distributors, must comply with the rules and update the information whenever new relevant health and safety factors become available.


Employers must ensure workers are not exposed to chemicals beyond legal limits and must carefully monitor and record exposure times.

Information, training and rights

Staff should also receive information and training on the disposal of hazardous chemicals, as well as information on their rights and those of their representatives. These include workers’ right not to work with chemicals if they have reasonable justification that there is an imminent and serious risk to their health and safety.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Decision 2014/52/EU



OJ L 32 of 1.2.2014

Last updated: 07.07.2014