by Caroline Miller, CIH, CSP
An agreement between the European Commission and European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has been reached for ECHA to regularly review occupational exposure limits (OELs) and provide recommendations on four to five chemicals a year, starting in 2020. The responsibility for OEL review will move from the Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits (SCOEL) to ECHA’s Risk Assessment Committee (RAC). The objective of this change is to improve consistency by having one resource addressing worker health and safety. This is a result of a REACH Review proposed action point to enhance the integration between REACH and occupational safety and health legislation. OELs are a key component in protection of workers from hazardous chemicals in the workplace. The change supports ECHA’s strategy “to provide integrated proposals to the Commission on how to regulate risks posed by chemicals to European citizens, workers and the environment.”
The Commission will begin to immediately assign chemicals for OEL review to RAC, with lead being a priority. RAC will prepare scientific dossiers with OEL recommendations for chemicals. They will propose the OELs under the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive and the Chemical Agents Directive. The recommendations by RAC will be provided to the Commission for decision making. The first recommendations are expected by the end of 2020. ECHA may also support the Commission with socio-economic evaluations with regard to proposing the OELs.
To accomplish the goal, ECHA published a guidance document to prepare scientific dossiers to recommend OELs for chemicals, based on the results of the REACH Review. The guidance documents are part of the Guidance on Information Requirements and Chemical Safety Assessment Chapter R.8: Characterisation of dose [concentration]-response for human health and included as Appendix R.8-17 to Chapter R.8: Guidance for preparing a scientific report for health based exposure limits at the workplace. The Appendix is broken up into two parts:
- Part I: Alignment of methodologies in accordance with the ECHA/RAC-SCOEL Joint Task Force findings
- Part II: How to prepare a scientific report for health based exposure limits at the workplace in accordance with the Joint Task Force reports
ECHA News details: https://www.echa.europa.eu/-/new-guidance-on-occupational-exposure-limits
Guidance on Information Requirements and Chemical Safety Assessment Pathfinder: https://echa.europa.eu/guidance-documents/guidance-on-information-requirements-and-chemical-safety-assessment
Appendix R.8-17 to Chapter R.8: Guidance for preparing a scientific report for health based exposure limits at the workplace: https://www.echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/23036412/ircsa_r8_appendix_oels_en.pdf/f1d45aca-193b-a7f5-55ce-032b3a13f9d8
ECHA, OELs, chemical safety, SCOEL
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