Ended with Response
Ended with Response

HSE Consultation (CD287) – Carcinogens and Mutagens – Revision of limit values in EH40/2005 “Workplace Exposure Limits”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is consulting on the implementation of Directive 2017/2398 which amends Directive 2004/37/EC. This introduces 11 new occupational exposure limits values (OELVs) and amends 2 existing OELVs for substances to help protect workers from the ill-health effects of exposure to carcinogens and mutagens in the workplace.

This consultation relates to the IOSH collective response to the HSE regarding the above changes. It seeks your views on:  

  • the initial assessment of the costs and benefits of the new and changed OELVs as set out in the impact assessment;
  • the proposed transposition approach.

This consultation relates to regulations that will apply in England, Scotland and Wales.

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland will follow a similar process for implementing the Directive in Northern Ireland.


This consultation relates to the implementation of Directive 2017/2398 which amends the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD) 2004/37/EC and The Directive also classifies Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) as a carcinogen where it is generated because of a work process. Skin notations for four substances are also added.

OELVs are set to help protect workers from the ill-health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. In the case of CMD this is in relation to substances that are carcinogens or mutagens. The CMD amending directive (2017/2398) adds 11 and amends 2 existing OELVs in the original CMD.  It requires Members States to establish, or amend, their national exposure limits to match those in the Directive.  

The original CMD contained binding OELVs for 3 carcinogenic substances (Hardwood dust, Benzene and Vinyl Chloride Monomer). In the UK these limit values are transposed as Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publication EH40/2005.  

The consultation will focus on the initial limits which come into effect in January 2020.  Directive 2017/2398 also includes extended transition periods for further lower limits for hardwood dust and chromium (VI) (see Table A).  HSE will carry out a further consultation on these limits at a later stage.

Directive 2017/2398 came into force on 17 January 2018 and EU Member State have until 17 January 2020 to transpose its requirements into their national legislation. This Consultative Document sets out the HSE’s proposals for establishing Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) for the substances listed in the Directive, subject to the ongoing negotiations on our relationship with the EU.

Proposed changes

The HSE are proposing setting 11 new and binding OELVs and amending 2 existing OELVs for carcinogenic substances to help protect workers from the ill-health effects of exposure to these substances in the workplace.

A draft Impact Assessment (IA) has been prepared, which sets out HSE’s current assessment of the potential impacts on businesses of implementing the Directive, including the research and stakeholder engagement undertaken to date. This assessment estimates that there should not be significant additional costs, because either the OELV is not significantly lower than the existing WEL, there is little or no use in GB, or, businesses should already be meeting the WEL if they have adequate controls in place under current requirements. 

Some of the likely industries to be affected by the proposed changes for the 13 substances include:

  • Construction
  • Engineering
  • Manufacturing (foundries, steel making, chemical manufacturing, welding and fabrication)
  • Food and Drinks Industry
  • Mining and Tunnelling
  • Agriculture
  • Pharmaceuticals and Chemical Manufacturing
  • Energy Production
  • Woodworking industry
  • Textiles industry
  • Waste-water and water treatment industry

A summary of the proposed changes to WEL to the 13 substances is documented on this table.

Consultation questions

We invited IOSH members to send us comments on Carcinogens and Mutagens - revision of limit values in EH40/2005 "Workplace Exposure Limits" to help inform an IOSH submission, by 7 June 2019