NEPSI Agreement continues to improve workers' health protection

Written by Sylvain Lefebvre and Michelle Wyart-Remy on 30 June 2017 in Thought Leader
Thought Leader

The NEPSI Agreement continues to improve workers' health protection, write Sylvain Lefebvre and Michelle Wyard-Remy.

Sylvain Lefebvre and Michelle Wyard-Remy | Photo credit: NEPSI


When the social dialogue 'Agreement on workers' health protection through the good handling and use of crystalline silica and products containing it' (the NEPSI Agreement), was signed 10 years ago, who could have imagined that it would reach such a degree of recognition?

Employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility Commissioner Marianne Thyssen herself recently qualified the NEPSI Agreement as "a true testament of EU-level social dialogue in action".

The story began back in 2005 when a diverse group of industries and their social partners, concerned by potential exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) met and together formed NEPSI, the European Network on Silica, to tackle this occupational health issue.


RELATED CONTENT


Those discussions resulted, in 2006, in the signature of the first ever multi-sectoral social dialogue agreement in the presence of then-European Commissioner responsible for employment, social affairs and equal opportunities, Vladimir Špidla.

The core of the agreement is a good practice guide containing more than 60 task sheets covering all the potentially exposed jobs in the signatory sectors.

Today, an official mention in the Commission's first proposal to amend the directive on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens and mutagens acknowledges the role of NEPSI's good practices as a valuable instrument to complement the regulatory requirements and to support their effective implementation.

Year on year improvements in the application of the NEPSI prevention principles and good practices are observed through the key performance indicators that the signatory sectors - the extractive, glass, ceramics, foundry industries and the construction materials, including cement, mortar and concrete producers - conscientiously report since 2006.

As chairs of the NEPSI Council, we have witnessed the determination of the 15 signatory sectors to raise awareness on the potential health effects of respirable crystalline silica dust at their workplaces and to improve the protection of their workers by applying good practices and preventing dust generation.

We are delighted and encouraged by the positive recognition received, which reinforces our desire to continue working together to enhance workers' health protection, making sure that the NEPSI Agreement continues playing a key role in facilitating compliance with the proposed European law which sets a binding occupational limit value for respirable crystalline silica dust in Annex III of the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens and mutagens directive.

Setting limit values through EU legislation is instrumental in protecting workers' health but it is the quality of implementation and enforcement that will determine whether lives are saved.

The NEPSI Agreement successfully leads to lower levels of exposure to respirable crystalline silica through the spreading of good practices.

We, as NEPSI social partners, count on the support of the European institutions to maintain and continue to develop this highly effective social dialogue agreement.

 

About the author

Sylvain Lefebvre and Michelle Wyart-Remy are co-Chairs of the European Network on Silica (NEPSI) www.nepsi.eu

Share this page

Tags

Categories

Partner content

This content is published by the Parliament Magazine on behalf of our partners.

Related Articles

Issue 459 | 10 July 2017
7 July 2017

Michał Boni Interview, Estonian EU Council Presidency Preview, EU-Cuba trade, Towards a Digital Single Market, Antimicrobial Resistance, Fertilizers Regulation, Happiness and Wellbeing, New Skills...

Protecting workers' health is a crucial issue
30 June 2017

The revision of the directive on carcinogens and mutagens is 10 years in the waiting - there's no time to waste, says Claude Rolin.

EU institutions must ensure fair conditions for all their interns
18 July 2017

The European Parliament has repeatedly called for social progress and the protection of EU workers' rights, while failing to offer its own interns decent working conditions, writes Terry Reintke...

Related Partner Content

PM+: UN disability review should be a wake-up call for EU policymakers
28 September 2015

EU leaders need to implement a more comprehensive disability approach within the EU legislative framework, argues Luk Zelderloo.

Thought leader | Fit for Work: Musculoskeletal disorders
29 September 2014

The EU must push for a better alignment between Europe's work and health agendas, writes Klaus Machold

Social EU or no EU? Trades Union calls for balanced approach to Pillar of Social Rights
22 June 2016

The European Commission's Pillar of Social Rights initiative must include proposals to counter the negative impact EU economic governance rules, says Eduardo Chagas.