In this edition of the Weekly Compliance Digest, we cover indicative occupational exposure limit values in the EU and a U.S. rule on working place examinations in mines.
Commission Directive (EU) 2017/164
What is it?
On January 31, 2017, a new European Commission Directive establishing a fourth list of indicative occupational exposure limit values was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Member States of the EU will have to establish national occupational exposure limit (OEL) values for 31 chemical agents listed in the Directive, taking into account the EU limit values.
An “occupational exposure limit value” is the limit of the time-weighted average of the concentration of a chemical agent in the air within the breathing zone of a worker in relation to a specified reference period. OEL values are established to protect workers from risks arising from exposure to hazardous chemicals.
For any chemical agent for which an indicative occupational exposure limit value (IOELV) has been set at EU level, Member States are required to establish a national OEL value by taking into account the Union limit value, determining the nature of the national limit value in accordance with national legislation and practice.
Who is affected?
The Directive affects companies operating in any of the 28 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway (the Directive has EEA relevance), and whose workers face a risk of occupational exposure to any of the 31 chemicals listed in the Directive. Here’s a sample of the chemicals that are part of the list of 31:
- Acetic acid (CAS 64-19-7)
- Hydrogen cyanide (CAS 74-90-8)
- Acrylic acid; Prop-2-enoic acid (CAS 79-10-7)
- Bisphenol A; 4,4′-Isopropylidenediphenol (CAS 80-05-7)
- 1,4-Dichlorobenzene; p-Dichlorobenzene (CAS 106-46-7)
- Ethyl acetate (CAS 141-78-6)
- Diacetyl; Butanedione (CAS 431-03-8)
- Carbon monoxide (CAS 630-08-0)
- Calcium dihydroxide (CAS 1305-62-0)
- Sulfur dioxide (CAS 7446-09-5)
- Lithium hydride (CAS 7580-67-8)
- Nitrogen monoxide (CAS 10102-43-9)
Consult the Annex of the Directive for a full list of the 31 chemicals.
As individual European states (EU and EEA) establish their own OEL values for these 31 chemicals, based on the EU’s new or revised IOELVs, companies will have to comply with provisions of national regulations that include preventive and protective measures to protect workers from exposure risks (including the risk of significant uptake through the skin for 10 of the 31 chemicals).
What is next?
EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway must bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive by August 21, 2018 at the latest.
Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines
What is it?
Last month, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced a final rule that aims to enhance the quality of working place examinations in metal and nonmetal mines, improve protections for miners and save lives. The final rule requires mine operators to:
1) Conduct working place examinations to identify hazards before work begins in an area.
2) Notify affected miners of hazardous conditions that are not corrected immediately.
3) Record the locations examined, the adverse conditions found, and dates of corrective action.
MSHA says that a number of mining operations voluntarily have safety and health programs in place that already include these requirements.
Who is affected?
The final rule would affect primarily companies from the following industries:
- Metal Ore Mining (NAICS 212200)
- Nonmetallic Mineral Mining and Quarrying (NAICS 212300)
What are the requirements?
The final rule requires that:
- A competent person examine the working place before miners begin work in that place.
- Mine operators promptly notify miners of any conditions that may adversely affect their safety or health and that are not corrected immediately, and promptly initiate appropriate corrective action.
- The examination record include:
- Name of the person conducting the examination.
- Date of the examination.
- Location of all areas examined.
- Description of each condition found that may adversely affect the safety or health of miners.
- Date the corrective actions were taken.
- The examination record be made before the end of the shift.
- Records be made available for inspection by MSHA and miners’ representatives, and operators provide a copy of the records upon request.
What is next?
The final rule was published in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017, and it will take effect on May 23, 2017.
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