Asbestos Directive: EMPL MEPs endorse deal with Council 

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On Thursday, the committee on Employment and Social Affairs endorsed the provisional agreement on the protection of workers from asbestos.

The new rules, already agreed upon between the Parliament and the Council in June, will make sure that employers reduce the exposure to asbestos fibres to the lowest possible level.

The occupational exposure limit (OEL) will decrease from 0.1 to 0.01 fibres of asbestos per cm³ without a transition period. After a maximum transition period of six years, member states will have to use a more modern and accurate technology to detect fibres, namely electron microscopy. They will have to decrease the level to 0.002 fibres of asbestos per cm³ excluding thin fibres or to 0.01 fibres of asbestos per cm³ including thin fibres.

As there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, the new rules will also set out a list of ways to avoid exposure, such as the adequate use of individual protective and respiratory equipment, the safe cleaning of clothing, a decontamination procedure, and high quality training requirements for workers.


Dragoş Pîslaru (Renew, RO), the chair of the EMPL committee, said: “The agreement on the Asbestos Directive is a huge success for the European Parliament. Together with the Council, we took an important step in order to achieve an asbestos-free future, which will improve both our children’s health and ours for a lifetime. The new rules will drastically reduce the occupational exposure limit to asbestos and will help us to better detect and prevent exposure to asbestos, and will protect the workers on the frontline of the renovation wave of buildings. This is part of the great legacy of Veronique Trillet-Lenoir, who fought relentlessly for the health of European citizens.”

Next steps

The legislation has been approved by the Employment and Social Affairs committee with 42 votes in favour, none against and 2 abstentions. It will now be put to a vote by the full house during one of the upcoming plenary sessions.

After endorsement in plenary, the Council will have to formally approve the agreement before the text is signed into law and published in the EU Official Journal.


Asbestos is an extremely dangerous carcinogen, which affects various economic sectors, such as construction, renovation, and firefighting, where workers face a high risk of exposure. Asbestos fibres are by far the major cause of work-related cancer: 78% of occupational cancers recognised in the member states are related to exposure to asbestos.