Respirable Crystalline Silica

In brief

Crystalline silica is an essential component in a multitude of materials used in industrial production and life. Respirable crystalline silica  (RCS) is the respirable dust fraction of crystalline silica which enters the body by inhalation. Although crystalline silica is ubiquitous in nature, the inhalation of RCS may constitute a hazard to workers.

In December 2017, the amended Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD) was published in the Official Journal. The reviewed directive sets a European Binding Occupational Exposure Limit (BOEL) for RCS generated by a work process at 0.1 mg/m³. Member States shall have brough into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 17 January 2020, setting national RCS Binding Occupational Exposure Limit Values (BOELV), some of which are stricter than the European value.

Article 18a of the CMD specifies that the Commission shall, as part of the next evaluation of the implementation of this Directive in the context of the evaluation referred to in Article 17a of Directive 89/391/EEC, also evaluate the need to modify the limit value for respirable crystalline silica dust.

Our view

CEMBUREAU is part of the NEPSI Social Dialogue Agreement which brings together workers and employers to protect employees occupationally exposed to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) generated by a work process at workplace.

Through this platform, a comprehensive set of guidance and assessments that address the minimisation obligations have been developed, taking into account the wide diversity of industrial circumstances and the best ways to address them with specific sectoral expertise. As such, the SDA is complementary to the general requirements of the Directive and, by following the NEPSI Guidance, the signatories implement these requirements in an informed and tailored way.  

NEPSI Social Partners acknowledge the positive recognition of the role of the Good Practices of the Social Dialogue "Agreement on Workers' Health Protection Through the Good Handling and Use of Crystalline Silica and Products Containing it" (the so-called NEPSI Agreement) within the first revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens at Work Directive (CMD), Directive (EU) 2017/2398, as a valuable and necessary instrument to complement the regulatory requirements and to support their effective implementation. An additional recognition of NEPSI Agreement is under the second CMD revision, Directive (EU) 2019/130, where in Article 13a,  Social Partners' agreements possibly concluded in the field of this Directive shall be listed on the website of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA).

The current biannual NEPSI reporting year is 2020. In 2018, CEMBUREAU is proud to report that, thanks to the efforts of its members, 100% reporting of the identified sites has been achieved, and 98.93% of employees potentially exposed to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) are covered by a risk assessment and an improvement was seen in relation to all Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

CEMBUREAU is an active contributor to NEPSI activities and is involved into the future of the “Social Dialogue Agreement on Workers Protection through the good handling and use of crystalline silica and products containing it” (in short, the NEPSI SDA). Amongst the projects are the review of the NEPSI Guide on Good Practices, the development of a standardized RCS measurement methodology and the development of e-learning training programmes for workers and SMEs.