On November 12, 2019, the European Union (EU) Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON) published a Nanopinion entitled “Nanomaterials in Europe’s workplaces: what are the risks and how can they be managed?” and written by Elke Schneider, European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA). Schneider states that at the EU level, the requirements for managing nanomaterials and their potential risks are the same as those for managing other hazardous substances. Under the EU’s Framework Directive, employers must assess all the potential risks to their workers’ safety and health and ensure that appropriate prevention measures are in place. Both the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and Classification, Labeling, and Packaging (CLP) regulations require manufacturers and importers to compile, and if necessary, generate data to demonstrate safe use. Schneider notes that REACH has been amended to ensure that sufficient information on nanomaterials is generated to use nanomaterials safely, including in the workplace. According to Schneider, a key element of the EU’s occupational safety and health legislation is that employers have to conduct a workplace risk assessment and establish prevention measures that adhere to a hierarchy of prevention measures, according to the STOP principle:
- Substitution (or elimination) of the dangerous substance;
- Technological measures;
- Organizational measures; and
- Personal protective measures.
Schneider notes that many EU Member States “also have their own national legislation that may include additional requirements for managing the risks associated with nanomaterials.” Schneider’s article includes a list of available tools and guidance.