2 June 2023

Policymakers must get the balance right when legislating on workplace chemicals!

On 12 May 2023, Ceemet published its views on the European Commission’s proposals on Lead and its inorganic compounds and Diisocyanates. It explains that MET companies have already made strides to ensure that workers are protected, having gone beyond what has been proposed at a national level.

Companies in our sector can, and continue to, improve their workplaces to make them both healthier and safer. However, policymakers need to take into account the scientific uncertainties regarding some limit values and the feasibility of their implementation.

  • Ceemet supports the view put forward by the employers’ party in the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health, an Occupational Exposure Limit Value (OEL) of 0.05 mg/m3. This is half the current limit value in some countries.

  • There is broad consensus that there is a questionable relationship between an employee’s blood lead and workplace air concentrations. Therefore, MET employers are of the opinion that the OEL proposed by the Commission will involve excessive costs for our industries without achieving a marked increase in worker protection.

  • The proposal of a considerably lower Biological Limit Value (BLV) fails to recognise the current industrial reality that many companies operate in Member States which permit much higher limit values. The Commission’s proposal for a new BLV (150 ug/l) is approximately half of the current BLV in some countries. It is also a significant reduction of the current European BLV (700 ug/l).

For all these reasons, Ceemet calls for a realistic transitional period in order to avoid a situation where companies simply cannot comply with the regulations. In any case, these proposals will involve massive industrial investments to comply with the legislation, not to mention the potential consequences for employment should the proposal remain in this format.