Respirable Crystalline Silica

In brief

Crystalline silica is an essential component in a multitude of materials used in industrial production and daily life. Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is the the fraction of crystalline silica dust that is inhalable and may pose a hazard to workers.

In December 2017, the amended Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD) set a limit value for RCS dust generated by work processes at 0.1 mg/m³. Member States have now implemented laws, regulations, and administrative provisions to comply with this directive, some of which are stricter than the European value.

The limit value for RCS dust set out in Annex III to Directive (EU) 2017/2398 should be revised in light of recent scientific and technical data. The CMD specifies that the Commission shall evaluate the need to modify the limit value as part of the next evaluation of the implementation of the directive.

Our view

CEMBUREAU is part of the NEPSI Social Dialogue Agreement, which aims to protect employees from occupational exposure to RCS at the workplace. Through this platform, guidance and assessments have been developed to address minimisation obligations with specific sectoral expertise, complementing the general requirements of the directive. By following the NEPSI guidance, signatories implement these requirements in an informed and tailored way.

NEPSI Social Partners recognise 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 regulatory requirements and 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 2024. In 2022, CEMBUREAU achieved, thanks to the efforts of its members, 100% reporting of identified sites, and 98.3% of employees potentially exposed to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) are covered by a risk assessment, with improvements seen in relation to all Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

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). 

In 2019, a series of projects, part of the NEPSI 5-year roadmap (2018-2023), were put in action with the objective to progress, improve and extend the scope of the Agreement. The successful common project’s work lead to the update of the Guidance document in line with the amended Directive, a shorten guidance document for companies targeting SMEs and training package and e-learning tools for workers targeting new workers.

NEPSI in ACTION, current EU project (2022-2024) is focusing, among several actions, on promoting NEPSI and its new tools at a national level through seminars in 8 countries in Europe.