Proposal for a COUNCIL DIRECTIVE amending for the first time Directive 90/394/EEC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens at work /* COM/95/425 FINAL - SYN 95/0229 */

Official Journal C 317 , 28/11/1995 P. 0016

Proposal for a Council Directive amending for the first time Directive 90/394/EEC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens at work (95/C 317/06) (Text with EEA relevance) COM(95) 425 final - 95/0229(SYN)

(Submitted by the Commission on 14 September 1995)


Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Union, and in particular Article 118a thereof,

Having regard to Council Directive 90/394/EEC of 28 June 1990 on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens at work (1), and in particular Article 16,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission, drawn up following consultation with the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work,

In cooperation with the European Parliament,

Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee,

Whereas Article 118a of the Treaty provides that the Council shall adopt, by means of directives, minimum requirements for encouraging improvements, especially in the working environment, to ensure a better level of protection of the safety and health of workers;

Whereas, under the terms of that Article, such directives are to avoid imposing administrative, financial and legal constraints in a way which would hold back the creation and development of small and medium-size undertakings;

Whereas Commission Directive 91/325/EEC of 1 March 1991 adapting to technical progress for the 12th time Council Directive 67/548/EEC on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances (2) introduces in Annex III new risk phrases to indicate the health hazards resulting from prolonged exposure and the risk of cancer through inhalation;

Whereas in all work situations workers must be protected in respect of preparations containing one or more carcinogens;

Whereas, for some agents it is necessary to consider all absorption pathways, including the possibility of penetration through the skin, in order to ensure the best possible level of protection;

Whereas the wording of point 2 of Annex I to Directive 90/394/EEC relating to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons has posed problems of interpretation in many Member States; whereas, therefore, a new, more precise wording is called for;

Whereas Article 16 of the aforementioned Directive 90/394/EEC makes provision for the establishment of exposure limit values on the basis of the available information, including scientific and technical data, in respect of all those carcinogens for which this is possible;

Whereas occupational exposure limit values must be regarded as an important component of the general arrangements for the protection of workers; whereas such limit values must be revised whenever this becomes necessary in the light of more recent scientific data;

Whereas benzene is a carcinogen which is present in many work situations and whereas, therefore, a large number of workers are exposed to a potential health risk; whereas, although current scientific knowledge is not such that a level can be established below which risks to health cease to exist, a reduction in exposure to benzene will nonetheless reduce these risks;

Whereas the respect of the minimum requirements on the protection of health and safety of workers from the specific risks related to carcinogens ensures not only the protection of the health and safety of each individual worker but also provides a level of minimum protection of all workers in the Community which avoids any possible distortion in the area of competitiveness;

Whereas provision should be made to ensure the protection of the health and safety of workers concerned, in the case of derogations provided for specified activities or sector of activity where the implementation of the limit value proposed for benzene may be difficult to meet within the date proposed;

Whereas in most small and medium-sized enterprises where the main use of benzene might be as a solvent, provisions to lower exposure will not be required as legal provisions already exist in nearly all the Member States to restrict or prohibit its use;

Whereas a consistent level of protection from the risks related to carcinogens has to be established for the Community as a whole and whereas that level of protection has to be set not by detailed prescriptive requirements but by a framework of general principles to enable Member States to apply the minimum requirements consistently;

Whereas this amendment constitutes a practical aspect of the realization of the social dimension of the internal market;

Whereas, pursuant to Decision 74/325/EEC (3), as last amended by the 1985 Act of Accession, the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work is to be consulted by the Commission with a view to drawing up proposals in this field,


Article 1

Directive 90/394/EEC is hereby amended as follows:

1. Article 2 shall be replaced by the following:

'Article 2

For the purposes of this Directive,

(a) "carcinogen" means:

(i) a substance which meets the requirements for classification as category 1 or 2 carcinogen according to the criteria of Annex VI to Directive 67/548/EEC;

(ii) a preparation composed of one or more substances referred to in point (a) (i) where the concentration of one or more of the individual substances meets the requirements for concentration limits for the classification of a preparation as a category 1 or 2 carcinogens set out either:

- in Annex I to Directive 67/548/EEC,


- in Annex I to Directive 88/379/EEC where the substance or substances do not appear in Annex I to Directive 67/548/EEC or appear in it without concentration limits;

(iii) a substance, preparation or process referred to in Annex I as well as a substance or preparation released by a process referred to in Annex I;

(b) "limit value" means, unless otherwise specified, the limit of concentration for a "carcinogen" in the air within the breathing zone of a worker.`

2. Article 3 (3) shall be replaced by the following:

'3. Furthermore, when assessing the risk, account shall be taken of all other routes of exposure, such as absorption into and/or through the skin`.

3. In Article 16, the following paragraph 3 shall be added:

'3. In the case of derogations provided for in Annex III, the Member States shall be obliged to ensure that employers comply with procedures and measures in order to take adequate precautions to protect the health and safety of the workers concerned.`

4. Item 2 of Annex I shall be replaced by the following:

'2. Work involving exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons present in coal soot, coal tar or coal pitch`.

5. Part A of Annex III shall be replaced by the following:


Article 2

1. Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive not later than 31 December 1998. They shall forthwith inform the Commission thereof.

When Member States adopt these provisions, these shall contain a reference to this Directive or shall be accompanied by such reference at the time of their official publication. The procedure for such reference shall be laid down by the Member States.

2. Member States shall communicate to the Commission the texts of the provisions of national law which they adopt in the field covered by this Directive.

Article 3

This Directive is addressed to the Member States.

(1) OJ No L 196, 26. 7. 1990, p. 1.

(2) OJ No L 180, 8. 7. 1991, p. 1.

(3) OJ No L 185, 9. 7. 1974, p. 15.