EH40/2005 update

EH40/2005 updated to include new and revised Workplace Exposure Limits

22nd January 2020

EH40/2005 has been updated to include new and revised Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) for carcinogenic substances.

On 17 January 2020 the HSE published a revised version of EH40/2005 ‘Workplace exposure limits’.

This has been updated in order to implement amendments to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (2004/37/EC) which introduces or revises 13 binding occupational exposure limit values for a number of carcinogenic substances.

Occupational exposure limits are implemented in the UK via the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations as Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) via Table 1 of EH40/2005 ‘Workplace exposure limits’ for use with COSHH.

A WEL is defined as the concentration of a hazardous substance in the air that people breathe, averaged over a specified reference period referred to as a time-weighted average.

Details of the changes can be summarised as follows:

There are new or revised entries for the following substances:

  • Hardwood dusts (including mixed dusts)
  • Chromium (VI) compounds
  • Refractory ceramic fibres
  • Respirable crystalline silica
  • Vinyl chloride monomer
  • Ethylene oxide
  • 1,2-Epoxypropane
  • Acrylamide
  • 2-Nitropropane
  • O-Toluidine
  • 1,3-Butadiene
  • Hydrazine
  • Bromoethylene

New skin notations have been added for the following substances:

  • Ethylene oxide

The following substances required reductions to the existing WELs:

  • Hardwood dusts (reduced from 5mg.m3 to 3mg.m3)
  • Chromium (VI) compounds
  • Refractory ceramic fibres
  • Vinyl chloride monomer
  • Ethylene oxide
  • 1,2-Epoxypropane
  • Acrylamide
  • 2-Nitropropane
  • O-Toluidine
  • 1,3-Butadiene
  • Hydrazine

COSHH requires exposure to carcinogenic substances to be reduced to ‘as low as is reasonably practicable’.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The WELs listed in Table 1 of EH40/2005 ‘Workplace Exposure Limits’ supersede any limits contained in other HSE guidance or publications.

The HSE are currently carrying out unannounced inspection visits between January and March 2020, find out more here: https://bsgltd.co.uk/hse-blitz-exposure-to-welding-fume/