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28.02.2017

Limit on silica dust voted by EMPL Committee is unrealistic for construction

The European Builders Confederation (EBC) is unsatisfied with today’s vote in the European Parliament’s Employment Committee on the revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive. In particular, we are worried about the Binding Occupational Exposure Limit value related to “Respirable crystalline silica”(so-called silica dust).

Today the EMPL Committee voted in favour of introducing a limit of 0.05 mg/ m3, lowering by half the 0.1mg/m3 limit recommended by the European Commission. In their joint position paper, EBC and FIEC - the European construction employers organisations - underlined the following points against the limit introduced today:

  • An exposure limit level must be proportionate to the concerned occupational risk and be technically measurable to be effectively implemented. As regards silica dust, it should therefore not go below the level of 0.1 mg/m3.
  • The exposure limit of 0.1 mg/m3 proposed by the European Commission was agreed in the tripartite Advisory Committee for Safety and Health, whose role is specifically referred to in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
  • A level of 0.05 mg/m³ for silica dust would be close to background natural levels. So guaranteeing a binding limit value of 0.05 mg/m³ during a full working day and in all circumstances is not feasible in the construction industry.
  • Any adaptation of the limit must only be done in the light of new scientific and technical elements and a new assessment by the Advisory Committee.

Effective actions that would reduce the health risks arising from prolonged exposure in work processes are:

  • Awareness raising campaigns
  • Full implementation of existing legislation
  • Cooperation between social partners in existing paritarian institutions

Read the joint EBC & FIEC position on the Occupational Exposure Limit on silica dust