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Parliamentary questions
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18 March 2020
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 138
Günther Sidl
 Answer in writing 
 Subject: Motor-driven work equipment and minimisation obligation with regard to air pollutants

The exhaust fumes given off by combustion engine-driven tools expose workers in the vicinity to huge amounts of pollution. Substances produced by the combustion process and released into the surrounding air are a danger to workers’ health. Pollution-emitting equipment ranges from manually-operated devices (lawnmowers, power saws, compressors, etc.) to self-propelled machinery (forklift trucks, wheel loaders, excavators, etc.). Many of these are now available in emission-free electrically-driven forms and are recognised as functionally efficient. However, these electrically-driven versions are often not used, even though accidents (e.g. carbon-dioxide poisoning) and work-related cancers caused by high levels of pollution from combustion engine-driven equipment are common. People working in enclosed spaces or areas with restricted air exchange (construction pits, trenches, indoor areas) are particularly at risk. The minimisation and substitution obligation is in practice hardly ever exercised.

1. Does the minimisation obligation mean that construction equipment in current and future use on all construction sites (above and below ground) has to be replaced by electrically-powered machines (substitution) or at least fitted with state-of-the-art particle filters, in line with Directive 2004/37/EC, as a result of diesel soot?

2. Does the minimisation obligation set out in Directive 2004/37/EC mean that machines and tools in engine categories NRS and NRSh used in enclosed spaces have to be replaced by electrically-powered machines and tools, in line with Regulation (EU) 2016/1628?

Original language of question: DE
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