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Limits on exposure to carcinogens and mutagens at work: Third proposal [EU Legislation in Progress]

Written by Nicole Scholz (2nd edition, updated on 18.02.2019),

Occupational Health written on the road

© gustavofrazao / Fotolia

The European Commission has proposed to amend Directive 2004/37/EC by expanding its scope and by including and/or revising occupational exposure limit values for a number of cancer- or mutation-causing substances. The initiative is proceeding in steps. The first proposal of May 2016 covered 13 priority chemical agents, the second, of January 2017, a further seven. The current (third) proposal addresses an additional five.

Broad discussions with scientists and the social partners fed into all three proposals. Reacting to the Commission’s set of measures as a whole, trade unions have acknowledged the importance of further improving the existing framework. Actors on the employers’ side have underlined the need to ensure that values are proportionate and feasible in terms of technical implementation.

Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee voted its report on 20 November 2018. It includes the call to bring cytotoxic medicines, which are used in the treatment of cancer, within the scope of the directive, as well as to grant incentives to businesses that comply. Council agreed on its position on 6 December 2018. Trilogue negotiations gave rise to a provisional agreement in January 2019. Once endorsed by the Council, it will be voted in Parliament’s plenary.

Interactive PDF

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work
Committee responsible: Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) COM(2018) 171 of 05.04.2018


Ordinary legislative procedure (COD) (Parliament and Council on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’)

Rapporteur: Laura Agea (EFDD, Italy)
Shadow rapporteurs: Claude Rolin (EPP, Belgium)
Marita Ulvskog (S&D, Sweden)
Anthea McIntyre (ECR, United Kingdom)
Enrique Calvet Chambon (ALDE, Spain)
Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE/NGL, France)
Karima Delli (Greens/EFA, France)
Joëlle Mélin (ENF, France)
Next steps expected: First-reading vote in plenary


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