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Carcinogens and mutagens legal update for April
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28 Feb 2024 / employment Print

Carcinogens and mutagens legal update for April

An update to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Carcinogens) Regulations 2001 will be published in April.

The updates will ensure correct transposition of Directive (EU) 2022/431, the fourth update to Directive 2004/37/EC (Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD).

The directive addresses the protection of workers from the health and safety risks related to exposure to carcinogens, mutagens, or substances toxic to reproduction (CMR) at work.

The 2024 regulations and updated code must come into effect no later than 5 April to meet the transposition deadline.

The supporting 2021 code of practice Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Chemical Agent) Regulations 2001-2015 will also be updated and published.

The new consolidating regulations will be referred to as the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Carcinogens, Mutagens and Reprotoxic Substances) Regulations 2024.


This directive brings reprotoxic substances under its scope and introduces hazardous medicinal products (HMPs).

The directive revises the limit values for three key carcinogens:

  • Benzene,
  • Acrylonitrile, and
  • Nickel compounds.

Practical recommendations for employee-health surveillance have been directly transferred from the existing 2001 carcinogens regulations so as to impose no new employer responsibilities.

However, where a CMR is used, the employer must:

  • Limit quantities of carcinogens, mutagens or reprotoxic substances,
  • Keep the number of workers exposed as low as possible,
  • Design the work processes so as to minimise the substance release,
  • Evacuate carcinogens or mutagens at source, while respecting the environment,
  • Use measurement procedures, especially for early detection of abnormal exposures,
  • Apply suitable working procedures and methods,
  • Use individual protection measures if collective protection measures are not enough,
  • Provide the necessary hygiene measures, such as regular cleaning,
  • Keep workers informed about related issues,
  • Demarcate risk areas and use adequate warning and safety signs,
  • Draw up emergency plans,
  • Use sealed and clearly visibly labelled containers for storage, handling, transportation and waste disposal.
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