A Safe Workplace for Working with Nanomaterials

Hall 216 Thursday 26th- Afternoon (h. 16.15)

A straightforward precautionary approach for safe working with nanomaterials, comprehensible and acceptable for labor inspection, with a focus on needs of SMEs.



The overall objective of the workshop is to discuss initiatives taken in some European Member States, to make precaution operational for handling nanomaterials at the workplace, and to work safely with products containing nanomaterials. A straightforward use of reference values, comprehensible exposure assessment and risk management measures, will allow industries, in particular SMEs, to use manufactured nanomaterials in a responsible way. A precautionary approach may give content to the employers’ mandatory ‘duty of care’ for a safe workplace, which may be also acceptable for the labour inspectorate. A broader adoption of the presented principles, may be used in Europe to support a way for effective risk governance.



Workplace risk assessment for working with nanomaterials is complex for all organizations, and in particular for SMEs,  not skilled in the speculative nature of nanoparticles’ toxicology, the ongoing debate on this issue and the limited hazard data available to use as input for a reliable risk assessment. The Chemical Agents Directive (CAD 98/24/EC) sets the frame for the required workplace risk assessment and the related responsibilities, which hold as well for working with nanomaterials. Key issue in risk assessment is the use of health-based Occupational Exposure Limits (HB-OELs), indicating safe levels for substances’ use. The CAD refers as well to a precautionary approach in cases of insufficient data and indicates how to handle when there are reasonable grounds for concern for the possibility of adverse effects if exposures to nanomaterials occurs. Complicating for risk assessment for working with nanomaterials is also the simultaneous exposure to other workplace- and process-related sources of nanomaterials, which contribute to the total nanoparticles’ exposure.

The workshop addresses these issues and presents possible ways forward as elaborated in some of the Member States. These include the development of Nano Reference Values (NRVs) as provisional substitute for not-available HB-OELs and an initiative to derive provisional health-based reference values. The workshop also discusses the way forward towards an inclusive risk assessment, taking into account the different sources of exposure. It discusses a precautionary approach for working with nanomaterials, which includes as well levels of communication required to accept suggested risk management measures. As such a comprehensible frame is developed which protects the health of workers, complies with existing legislation and is easy to implement with risk management measures in most companies.


Employers and employees in industry, in particular Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs); occupational health and safety experts; representatives of organizations involved in risk assessment, risk management and risk governance, trade unions, NGOs and other Civil Society Organizations, etc.


Safe workplace, nanomaterials, precautionary approach, process-generated nanoparticles



HILDO KROP IVAM UvA BV Setting the scene for a precautionary approach for OHS when dealing with Nanomaterials
CAROLINE VERDOOT Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique (FGTB – ABVV) and European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) Needs for Workers to Assure a Safe Nano-workplace
MARIA ADA MALVINDI Nanotechnology Industry Association (NIA) Needs for SMEs to Assure a Safe Nano-Workplace
PIETER VAN BROEKHUIZEN IVAM UvA BVNanoDiode project Coordinatore Inititatives for Making Precaution Operational for Workers Exposed to Nanomaterials



Hildo Krop
Pieter van Broekhuizen

IVAM UvA, Nanotechnology and Chemical Risks,
Plantage Muidergracht 24, Postbus 18180
NL-1001ZB , Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Tel:        +31 20 525 5080 (secretariat)
+31 20 525 6569 (direct)

NanoDiode Project Website