Occupational Safety & Health

European Commission

Asbestos at Work Directive

  • In September 2022, the European Commission introduced a new legislative proposal to protect European workers from asbestos. The Commission’s proposal aimed to better support victims of asbestos-related diseases, enhance worker protection from asbestos, improve information on asbestos in buildings, and ensure safe disposal of asbestos to achieve zero pollution.
  • On 3 October, the EP adopted the Directive, with 614 votes in favour, 2 against and 4 abstentions.
  • In June 2023, the EU agreed to improve the protection of workers against asbestos by revising the Directive on Asbestos at Work in the EU.
  • The revised Directive sets a new occupational exposure limit to be ten times lower than previously, as the limit value will be decreased from 0.1 to 0.01 fibres of asbestos per cubic centimetre (cm³), without a transition period.
  • After a maximum transition period of six years member states will have to switch to more modern and sensitive technology that can detect fibres, namely electron microscopy (EM) – which is more sensitive than the phase-contrast microscopy (PCM) currently used.
  • As the last step of the legislative process, on 23 October 2023, the EU Council formally adopted the Directive to step up the protection of workers from health risks related to asbestos.


Other updates:
  • In July 2021, the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027 was introduced, focusing on anticipating and managing changes in the new world of work, improving prevention of work-related diseases and accidents, and increasing preparedness for potential future health threats.
  • In February 2023, the Commission has taken action to further improve the protection of workers from the health risks linked to the exposure to dangerous chemicals: lead and diisocyanates. In the case of lead, a significantly reduced exposure limit will help prevent health issues of workers, for example affecting reproductive functions and foetal development. For diisocyanates, a new exposure limit will prevent cases of asthma and other respiratory diseases. Concretely, the Commission proposes to amend two Directives:
    • for lead, the Directive on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens, mutagens and reprotoxic substances at work
    • for lead and diisocyanates, the Directive on the protection of workers from the risks related to chemical agents at work

Roadmap on Carcinogens

  • Fact sheets (ALL)
  • Fact sheet on ‘Hydrazine’ – identified as an issue in the context of the military (November 2021)
  • Fact sheet on ‘Combustion’ – Combustion processes take place in a wide variety of industries like metal processing, construction, shipyards, and transportation industries. Exposure to engine exhaust takes place in occupations such as mechanics in bus garages and truck terminals, truck drivers, firefighters, construction workers, forklift operators, people working with fixed power sources like compressors, generators, workers loading and unloading ships or airplanes, oil and gas workers and toll-booth workers (July 2022)
  • Scoping study report on welding fumes (ECHA – European Chemicals Agency) – study report on the evaluation of limit values for welding fumes and fumes from other processes that generate fume in a similar way at the workplace.

European Agency for Safety & Health at Work (EU-OSHA)