Exposure to asbestos: MEPs adopt law to protect workers more robustly

Exposure to asbestos: MEPs adopt law to protect workers more robustly

Members of European Parliament have approved new rules to protect EU workers from the health risks related to asbestos and to improve the early detection of asbestos.

A directive was approved to decrease the occupational exposure limit of asbestos and calls for the use of more modern and accurate technology to detect the presence of thin asbestos fibres.

Lower level of exposure
Under the new rules, workers will have to wear individual protective and respiratory equipment and clothing will have to be cleaned safely. In addition, there will be a decontamination procedure, and high-quality training requirements for workers.

The occupational exposure limit (OEL) will be ten times lower as the limit value will be decreased from 0.1 to 0.01 fibres of asbestos per cubic centimetre (cm³), without a transition period.

After a maximum transition period of six years, member states will have to switch to more modern and sensitive technology that can detect fibres, namely electron microscopy. They will then have the option to either decrease the level to 0.002 fibres of asbestos per cm³ excluding thin fibres, or to 0.01 fibres of asbestos per cm³ including thin fibres.

  • A worker will be exposed to levels of asbestos ten times lower than before
  • More modern and sensitive technology to detect asbestos fibres
  • New requirements to protect workers more effectively and to avoid exposure

The rapporteur of the file, Veronique Trillet-Lenoir, passed away on 9 August 2023, before the final adoption of the Directive.



Chair of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, Dragoş Pîslaru (Renew, RO), said:

“We have come one step closer to an asbestos-free future. Today’s adoption is part of Veronique Trillet-Lenoir’s great legacy, who fought relentlessly for the health of European citizens. These new rules on asbestos drastically reduce the level of asbestos that workers are exposed to, protecting them from the dangerous carcinogen.

“But, as there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, the new rules also shield workers by providing them with protective clothes and respiratory equipment, protecting those on the frontline of the buildings renovation wave.”

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