Completed - Challenge 4.2: Process-generated carcinogens

Process-generated carcinogens occur as a by-product of a work-process. These need extra attention because they won’t have labels and there may not be any reference to them in Safety Data Sheets.

A large proportion of workers in the EU is potentially exposed to process-generated contaminants, in particular to RCS.

Challenge Aim

When a new limit value was introduced through the amendment of the Carcinogens Directive (EU) 2017/2398 and the SLIC Guidance for national labour inspectors addressed risks for worker due to exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) on construction site, the Austrian Labour Inspection aimed at testing and improving the level of awareness and use of dust-free alternatives on Austrian construction site.

Challenge description

The inspection campaign on silica dust on construction sites (2020-2022) was set up in two phases and aimed at low-dust (dust-free) working methods on constructions sites and, in particular, at reducing or avoiding silica dust in small and medium sized enterprises. The inspection campaign was carried out in 1668 SME. Phase I primarily focussed on consulting and awareness-raising. Coordinators on construction sites were advised by labour inspectors. In order to monitor the effects in companies that were advised in Phase I, some companies were inspected in phase II as well. During these site visits, companies were asked a specific set of questions in order to be able to compare between the first and second part of the intervention. As part of the inspection campaign, good company practices were collected and recorded in the second phase as well.

Challenge 4.2 conclusions in a nutshell

The results of the two phases were overall positive. The level of knowledge that silica dust is classified as carcinogenic was more than doubled from 44% in Phase I to 91% in Phase II.

Percentage of knowledge that silica dust is classified as carcinogenic

Regarding the level of information on activities in which workers are exposed to silica dust (i.e. when workers come into contact with air that is enriched with silica dust) the focus on the consultation from Phase I also had an effect. The respondents in Phase II knew that the material they were working with was contained with silica dust (73 % in Phase I versus 89 % in Phase II). The percentage of companies that had taken technical measures against exposure to silica dust almost doubled, rising from 42% in Phase I to 75% in Phase II.

Undercutting of the limit values for dust and in particular silica dust was already achieved by more than half of the companies in Phase II. Specifically, the value rose from 19 % in Phase I to 56 % in Phase II. There may be several reasons for this increase: On the one hand, the data density regarding the limit value comparison measurements may have increased – it can be assumed that since the end of Phase I the advised companies made limit value comparison measurements, which would allow more precise statements about the effectiveness of the technical measures. On the other hand the technical measures may also have been adapted by the companies. This was done either through technologies that were better suited to the respective situation or through improved performance of the equipment used (e.g. the use of a higher filter class in cabins). It is necessary for the remaining companies to optimise the technical measures in order to stay below the limit values.

To the full report (in German)

Initial idea

Below you can find the original activities, milestones and deliverables that had been envisioned when starting this challenge in 2021.

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