Workplace Exposure Limits


Bureau Veritas advises employers to absorb the impact of latest HSE guidance

With the recent introduction of new and revised workplace exposure limits (WELs) for 31 chemical substances published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Bureau Veritas is urging employers to carefully consider with how these changes may impact their organisation and employees.

The latest version of EH40/2005 Workplace exposure limits guidance by the HSE incorporates updated recommendations introduced last year by EU-OSHA (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work) in its fourth Indicative Occupational Exposure Limit Values (IOELV) Directive. The guidance has been designed to inform those responsible for controlling exposure to hazardous substances at work, to ensure organisations are compliant with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 and are providing a safe workplace environment for employees.

Gerard Mooney, Senior Consultant – Occupational Hygiene at Bureau Veritas, comments: “Amongst the thousands of substances used in workplaces, around 500 have set WELs, with a total of 31 highlighted by the HSE in this latest guidance, either with revised limits set or as new entries."

"Whilst some of the changes introduced in this version of EH40/2005 may not have come as a surprise to many, the actual implementation of any required changes to an organisations occupational hygiene strategy might be complex. Business will need support in implementing any revised WELs in order to protect workers from the ill-health effects of exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace."

“The food and manufacturing industries will be particularly affected by the changes, relating specifically to new WELs around diacetyl for the former and Manganese, Carbon monoxide Nitrogen dioxide and Nitrogen Monoxide for the latter."

“Diacetyl is a chemical commonly used in the food and beverage industry as a flavouring agent, due to the buttery taste it impacts. Whilst food products containing diacetyl remain safe to eat and drink, inhalation of the chemical during manufacturing processes presents a significant risk for lung disease if not controlled.  Manganese, Carbon monoxide Nitrogen dioxide and Nitrogen Monoxide gases meanwhile are a common by-product of the welding process in the manufacturing industry but are extremely hazardous in high quantities and can cause acute lung damage with manganese also being linked to neurological health effects. Both of these industries will face significant challenges in the years to come in managing these substances safely."

“We would therefore encourage employers to review to the new and revised limits included in the latest WELs guidance in detail – published on the HSE website – in order to fully understand how it might affect their organisation and employees. Any changes that would be required in order to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation associated with hazardous substances, such as COSHH and Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, would need to take effect immediately, in order to safeguard employee wellbeing.”

Bureau Veritas supports businesses in managing potential exposure risks and controlling health hazards that may arise from physical or chemical agents within a workplace environment, through its team of professional occupational hygienists.

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