The Polish Copper Employers’ Association position paper – Health & safety at work – protecting workers from exposure to chemicals (lead and di-isocyanates)

Lubin, 21 March 2022

ZPPM / 13S / III/ 2022
European Commission
Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
DG EMPL – Unit.2 – Health and Safety at Work, EU-OSHA
1049 Bruxelles/Brussel
Proposal for a directive – Call for evidence: Ref. Ares(2022)1281076 – 21/02/2022
The Polish Copper Employers’ Association position paper on Health & safety at work – protecting workers from exposure to chemicals (lead and di-isocyanates)

Title of the Initiative: Health & safety at work – protecting workers from exposure to chemicals (lead and di-isocyanates) – Ref. Ares(2022)1281076 – 21/02/2022 – Proposal for an EP and Council Directive

The Polish Copper Employers’ Association (former Employers’ Organization of Polish Copper) (Związek Pracodawców Polska Miedź) was established in 1996. We are the biggest, independent and not-for-profit regional employers’ organization whose goal is to represent and protect employers’ interests. Our organization unites 122 employers, employing over 38,000 employees. The founder of the Association is KGHM Polska Miedź S.A., our members are also private entities, especially from the small and medium-sized enterprise sector, as well as local government and municipal companies. For over 25 years, our Association has been monitoring and giving opinions on draft legal acts important for the economy, protecting the rights and representing the interests of employers and entrepreneurs. We declare our readiness to join the works on the update of the EU directive protecting employees against the risks related to exposure to chemicals (The Chemical Agents Directive 98/24/EC) – Health & safety at work – protecting workers from exposure to chemicals (lead and di-isocyanates).

The health and safety of our employees is the key and the highest priority for employers associated in the Polish Copper Employers’ Association.

Our organization and our member companies pay attention to the following issues.

Our leader and founder, KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. (KGHM) is one of the world’s leading companies in the mining and production of copper and silver. The company also produces other accompanying metals, which results from the properties of the exploited polymetallic deposit.

The lead production process is an extremely important element / stage in the copper production process at KGHM. Lead is a product recovered from lead-bearing materials produced during the smelting and refining of copper. This method of lead production has an important environmental aspect, as it allows effective management of the lead-containing materials generated in the production of copper.
KGHM is a producer of lead from primary sources. In 2020, lead production in the EU amounted to 1.65 million Mg, of which 73% was produced from secondary sources. Annual production of refined lead by KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. is about 30 thousand Mg, representing 6.7% of production from primary sources. Our company employs 176 people in the production of lead. However, the workers exposure risk to the harmful effects of lead occurs throughout the entire chain of pyrometallurgical processes carried out at KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. due to the fact that the divisions producing lead use intermediate products generated in the earlier stages of copper production.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to present the position of our association as part of the public consultation on the values of OEL and BLV for lead, we would like to indicate that in our opinion these values should be as follows:
Occupational Exposure Limit Value

  • 50 µg / m³ (8hr TWA) with an 8-year transition period after inclusion in CAD

Biological Limit Values

  • 35 µg / dL with a 5-year transition transition period after inclusion in CAD
    (no earlier than 2028)
  • 20 µg / dL with a 10-year transition transition period after inclusion in CAD (no earlier than 2033)

The justification of the position in attachement


Therefore, we support the proposal of the International Lead Association, which proposes an OEL value for lead at the level of 0.05 mg / m3. At the same time, in our opinion the position of the RAC Committee for the OEL value for lead of 0.004 mg / m3 is unacceptable, also due to the particularly negative impact on the production of lead, copper and other associated metals in Europe.

Tightening the OEL and BLV standards for lead would also put into question the profitability of our production, especially as already 5 years ago we practically changed the production technology in one of our dvisions, which operates as BAT. In our opinion, such tightening of both standards is not economically viable, nor is it technically feasible at present for any lead production plant in the world.

When new lead hygiene standards are established, it is also very important to ensure sufficient time – transition periods – to allow primary source lead producers to make the necessary changes to the processes related to the management of exposure to lead in the workplace, organizational and technological changes. However, in the case of BLV, for the values we propose, the transition periods should be, respectively, 5 years for the 35 µg / dL standard and a minimum of 10 years for the 20 µg / dL standard from the entry into force of the Chemical Agents Directive (CAD).

Beata Staszków,
President of the Board & CEO of The Polish Copper Employers’ Association
The position was prepared on the basis of expert opinions from member entities of the The Polish Copper Employers’ Association.