Exposure to carcinogens, mutagens or reprotoxic substances at work



Directive 2004/37/EC – protection from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work




Determining exposure and assessing risks

Employers’ obligations

Information for the responsible authority

Unforeseeable exposure

Foreseeable exposure

Access to risk areas

Hygiene and personal protection

Informing, training and consulting workers

Employers must ensure that:

Employers shall inform workers of installations and related containers containing CMRs and ensure that all containers, packages and installations containing CMRs are clearly and legibly labelled and that warning signs are clearly displayed.

Where a biological limit value* has been set in Annex IIIa, health surveillance is mandatory for working with the CMR in question, in line with the procedures in that annex. Workers shall be informed of that requirement before being assigned to the task involving the risk of exposure to this CMR.

Measures must be taken to ensure that workers and/or any workers’ representatives:

Measures must be taken to ensure that:

Miscellaneous measures

Health surveillance




For further information, see:

Directive 2004/37/EC codifies and replaces Directive 90/394/EEC and its successive amendments, Directives 97/42/EC and 1999/38/EC.


Carcinogens. Substances with the potential to cause cancer in an organism.
Mutagens. Substances that change the genetic material of an organism.
Reprotoxic substances. Substances that interfere with reproduction (for example, infertility, miscarriages and foetal malformations). In the directive, a distinction is made between those for which an exposure threshold can be defined, below which there are no harmful effects on workers’ health (threshold reprotoxic substance), and those for which there is no safe level of exposure for workers’ health (non-threshold reprotoxic substance). Both are identified as such in the notation column of Annex III to the directive.
Biological limit value. Limit of the concentration in the appropriate biological medium of the relevant agent, its metabolite or an indicator of effect.


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 published in corrigendum (OJ L 229, 29.6.2004, pp. 23–34).

Successive amendments to Directive 2004/37/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Directive 2009/148/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work (OJ L 330, 16.12.2009, pp. 28–36).

See consolidated version.

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.

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 01.06.2022