From 21 August 2018, the third edition of HSE’s guidance document ‘EH40/2005 Workplace Exposure Limits’ came into force, introducing new and revised workplace exposure limits for 31 substances.
For organisations operating in industries that use or generate hazardous substances, understanding the new workplace exposure limits is fundamental to ensure appropriate changes can be put into place to improve regulation compliance and safeguard the health and safety of employees.
To support in your understanding of the EH40 updates, SOCOTEC has provided an overview of the changes in relation to assessing exposure to Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions (DEEEs).
New Exposure Limits to Affect Monitoring Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions
What are Workplace Exposure Limits?
Workplace exposure limits (WELs) outline the highest acceptable concentration of an airborne hazardous substance in the workplace.
When managing activities that use or generate hazardous substances and conducting risk assessments, WELs can support organisations in their duty to monitor exposure to hazardous substances, where required, under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2012.
Exposure monitoring via personal air sampling may be required to determine whether or not exposure levels are acceptable.
What are the new and revised workplace exposure limits (WELs)?
There are 31 substances in EH40 that have been added or revised.
New WEL entries for nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen monoxide, as well as a reduced WEL for the existing carbon monoxide limit, will noticeably affect any organisation assessing exposure to Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions (DEEEs).
Diesel is a major source of fuel for a range of applications, including vehicles, powering heavy equipment as well as power generators. Manufacturers in warehouses and workers in railway or bus maintenance sheds are just some examples in which controlling exposure to DEEEs is required – and would therefore be affected by the updates to the EH40 guidance.
The WELs for these compounds are listed under the current EH40 version, as follows:
* In accordance with EU Directive 2017/164/EU
Other compounds that have been revised include the new short-term exposure limit for sulphur dioxide – present in emissions from motor vehicles – and diacetyl, a chemical used in food and manufacturing industries.
With WEL amendments to 31 substances, a full list of WEL revisions and additions can be found on the HSE website in the EH40 document.
When do the changes come into effect?
The changes to EH40 were effective as of 21 August 2018, requiring immediate response and appropriate action, in order for organisations to be compliant with regulations and ensure the wellbeing of employees.
For underground mining and tunnelling industries across Europe, however, a transitional period has been allowed due to technological challenges and costs of complying with the new proposed limits for nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. Therefore, up until 21 August 2023, national limit values may apply for those three substances in underground mining and tunnelling industries.
After the 5 year transitional period, the lower values for those substances will apply and can be found in the revised EH40 document on the HSE website.
Why have the changes been made?
The updates to EH40/2005 include recommendations from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) in its fourth list of Indicative Occupational Exposure Limit Values (IOELV).
With the health and safety of workers at the focus, the list of IOELV relate to the risks of chemical agents in the workplace. Using the most recent scientific data available and taking into account the availability of reliable measurement techniques, the IOELV’s are health-based aiming to protect workers.
Where an IOELV has been set at Union level, Member States of the EU must establish a national occupational exposure limit value.
What do I need to do about the EH40 update?
Understanding the new and revised limits is important to assess if the changes will affect your organisation and your employees.
If a substance has been added or amended, and your industry puts workers at risk of exposure to hazardous substances, then your organisation may need to undertake workplace exposure monitoring to assess if there is adequate control of exposure. This is usually done by fitting the employees expected to be at risk with personal air sampling equipment.
If your workplace exposure monitoring demonstrates that the workplace exposure is inadequate and does not comply with the WEL, recommendations can be made on how to reduce the risk of exposure.
Compliance can be made easy and understandable with the help of an occupational hygienist. SOCOTEC has a widespread team of occupational hygienists qualified to advise on regulatory requirements, develop monitoring strategies, undertake workplace exposure monitoring, local exhaust ventilation testing and help guide companies to meet their statutory duties. SOCOTEC’s occupational hygienists have extensive experience in DEEE monitoring for a wide range of clients based in rail and transport, mining, logistics, construction and manufacturing.
For more information about SOCOTEC's occupational hygiene services, please click here or contact us.