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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 21 June 2012

Health and safety: Commission requests Italy and UK to protect workers from hazardous chemicals

The European Commission has requested Italy and the United Kingdom to fulfil their obligations under EU law by implementing fully into national law a 2009 Directive on protecting workers from hazardouschemicals. The Directive sets indicative limits for 19 chemicals to which workers can be exposed in the course of their work and complements the indicative limits for potentially hazardous chemicals set by previous Directives.

The request to the UK concerns only the maritime sector, since national provisions have already been adopted for all other sectors.

The deadline for Member States to implement the Directive was 18 December 2011. Failure to implement the Directive in full may result in workers not being protected from exposure to the hazardous chemical substances in question.

The Commission's requests take the form of 'reasoned opinions' under EU infringement procedures. Italy and the UK now have two months to inform the Commission of measures taken to bring their legislation into line with EU law. Otherwise the Commission may decide to refer the two Member States to the EU's Court of Justice.


Commission Directive 2009/161/EU, establishing a third list of indicative occupational exposure limit values, implements Council Directive 98/24/EC on chemical agents at work. Member States are required to establish national occupational exposure limit values for the chemical agents listed in the Annex to the Commission Directive, taking into account the EU values.

Apart from the cases against Italy and the UK, there is also an infringement case concerning this Directive still open against Austria.

Further information

Commission Directive 2009/161/EU of 17 December 2009 establishing a third list of indicative occupational exposure limit values in implementation of Council Directive 98/24/EC and amending Commission Directive 2000/39/EC:

For more information on infringement procedures: and MEMO/12/464

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Contacts :

Jonathan Todd (+32 2 299 41 07)

Nadège Defrère (+32 2 296 45 44)

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