Today the EU provides a comprehensive legislative framework for the protection of workers’ health. Various types of hazardous dust are regulated in a number of Directives and this provides a basis for social partner action.
Proper implementation of this legal framework remains a challenge especially in a work environment that is constantly changing. This constant change is one of the main characteristics of construction work. Furthermore, construction work presents a very high diversity of types of processes or equipment used, to name the most relevant aspects. Therefore, the levels and circumstances of exposure to dust can vary significantly as well.
Workers and employers are equally concerned and therefore the topic of dangerous substances, even though it is highly complex and not easy to deal with, was already put on the agenda of the European social partner organisations and other institutions a long time ago. The EFBWW (European Federation of Building and Wood Workers) and FIEC already did joint activities in the field of asbestos dust and established an ad-hoc working group to support the implementation of the new occupational limit value for Respirable Crystalline Silica. Hence, the working group developed the concept for this project.
Goals of the project
With the revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (Directive 2017/2398 (EU), amending Directive 2004/37/EC), an Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) of 0.1 mg/m³ for respirable crystalline silica was established. The European Social Partners organisations for the Construction sector consider the practical implementation of this new limit value as a challenge.
The project partners believe that, based on the technical state of the art, solutions for sound prevention of exposure to RCS are achievable for most construction activities. So as to reach those levels, a dialogue between social partners from various countries, the respective prevention bodies and other stakeholders (amongst others the providers of technical equipment) is crucial and a good starting point. We aim to bring together those stakeholders in the framework of this project.
The goals of the project are to:
1. Bring together stakeholders for better prevention of exposure to RCS in construction works;
2. Map various types of construction works and evaluate their level of RCS exposure;
3. Evaluate the level of protection needed for the different types of construction works identified and the feasibility of keeping the exposure below the limit value (traffic light system);
4. Describe technical and organisational measures to reach the best achievable level of protection;
5. Make the information available in as many languages as possible;
6. Provide guidance on the required technical innovation for those activities for which the new limit value is more complicated or impossible to achieve;