The Employment Ministers of the EU Member States agreed on 8 December 2022 on their common position on a proposal to strengthen EU legislation on the protection of workers against the risks of asbestos.
This approach is part of the European plan to overcome cancer. Although asbestos has been banned for several years in many countries, it is still widely used in buildings. This desire for better protection also stems from the fact that the Green Pact for Europe, which aims to speed up the energy renovation of buildings, risks increasing workers’ exposure to carcinogenic asbestos.
The new rules, if approved, will ensure that no worker is exposed to more than 0.01 fibres of asbestos per cm³. This represents a tenfold reduction of the current value. Member States have also decided to use a more modern and sensitive method for counting asbestos fibres. They would have a transitional period of 7 years to comply with the requirements of the new method, namely electron microscopy.
The Commission would be responsible for supporting the Member States in this change of measurement method. During this transitional period, the measurement methods currently in use may remain in place.