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Directive 98/24/EC - risks related to chemical agents at work

of 7 April 1998 on the protection of the health and safety of workers from the risks related to chemical agents at work (fourteenth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC)


To lay down minimum requirements for the protection of workers from risks to their safety and health arising, or likely to arise, from the effects of chemical agents that are present at the workplace or as a result of any work activity involving chemical agents.


Definition of terms "chemical agent", "hazardous chemical agent" (with reference to Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008), "activity involving chemical agents", "occupational exposure limit value", "biological limit value", "health surveillance", "hazard" and "risk".


The Directive provides for the drawing up of indicative and binding occupational exposure limit values as well as biological limit values at Community level.

For any chemical agent for which an indicative occupational exposure limit value is established at Community level, Member States must establish a national occupational exposure limit value, taking into account the Community limit value. Along the same lines, binding occupational exposure limit values and binding biological limit values may be drawn up at Community level taking into account feasibility factors. For any chemical agent for which a binding occupational exposure or biological limit value is established at Community level, Member States must establish a corresponding national binding occupational exposure or biological limit value that does not exceed the Community limit value.

The employer must determine whether any hazardous chemical agents are present at the workplace and assess any risk to the safety and health arising from their presence. The employer must be in possession of an assessment of the risk in accordance with Article 9 of Directive 89/391/EEC. This assessment shall be kept up-to-date, particularly if there have been significant changes or if the results of health surveillance show it to be necessary.

In the case of activities involving exposure to several hazardous chemical agents, the risks must be assessed on the basis of the risk presented by all such chemical agents in combination.

The employer must take the necessary preventive measures set out in Article 6 of Directive 89/391/EEC and risks must be eliminated or reduced to a minimum following the hierarchy of prevention measures.

The specific protection, prevention and monitoring measures listed below must be applied if the assessment carried out by the employer reveals a risk to the safety and health of workers.

The employer must ensure that the risk is eliminated or reduced to a minimum, preferably by substitution (replacing a hazardous chemical agent with a chemical agent or process which is not hazardous or less hazardous).

The employer must regularly measure chemical agents which may present a risk to workers' health, in relation to the occupational exposure limit values and must immediately take steps to remedy the situation if exceeded.

The employer must take appropriate technical and/or organisational measures of fire safety.

Work equipment and protective systems must comply with the relevant Community provisions, in particular with Directive 94/9/EC.

The employer must establish procedures (action plans) which can be implemented in the event of an accident, incident or emergency related to the presence of hazardous chemical agents at the workplace

The employer must inform workers:

  • on emergency arrangements;
  • on the results of the risk assessment;
  • on the hazardous chemical agents present at the workplace with access to safety data sheets;
  • by training on the appropriate precautions and on the personal and collective protection measures that are to be taken.

The employer must ensure that the contents of containers and pipes and any hazard that they represent are clearly identifiable.

Annex III to the Directive specifies limits above which certain chemical agents and activities involving chemical agents are prohibited. Member States may permit derogations from these prohibitions in special circumstances.

Member States must introduce arrangements for carrying out appropriate health surveillance of workers for whom the results of the assessment made by the employer reveal a risk to health. Health surveillance is compulsory for work with a chemical agent for which a binding biological limit value has been set. Individual health and exposure records must be made and kept up-to-date for each worker who undergoes health surveillance. The individual worker must have access to his personal records.

Where, as a result of health surveillance, a worker is found to have a disease or adverse health effect associated with exposure at work to a hazardous chemical agent or a binding biological limit value is found to have been exceeded, the worker must be informed by the doctor, who will provide him with information and advice regarding any health surveillance which he should undergo following the end of the exposure.

The employer must review the risk assessment that he made and the measures provided to eliminate or reduce these risks.


  • Annex I List of binding occupational exposure limit values
  • Annex II Binding biological limit values and health surveillance measures
  • Annex III Prohibitions
  • (a) chemical agents
  • (b) work activities

Read the full text of the consolidated version of the Directive (including later amendments)

Read the full text of the original Directive

National laws implementing this Directive

Individual Directives add further limit values for certain chemical substances:

Indicative limit values for occupational exposure for some chemical substances are listed also in:

 Further information on this topic

Contract to analyse and evaluate the impact of the practical implementation in the workplace of national measures implementing Directive 98/24/EC on Chemical Agents

Guidance for National Labour Inspectors on the interaction of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation (REACH) (Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006), the Chemical Agents Directive (CAD) and the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD)