Eurosil - The European Association of Industrial Silica Producers

1.17. What is the Social Dialogue Agreement?

The Agreement on Workers’ Health Protection Through the Good Handling and Use of Crystalline Silica and Products Containing it is a contribution of the industry (employers and employees) towards the protection of workers from possible exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust in the workplace.

The final text was signed on 25 April 2006 by the employer and employee representatives of 14 industry sectors (5 extractive sectors: Aggregates, Cement, Industrial Minerals, Mines and Natural Stones, and 9 consumer sectors: Ceramics, Foundry, Glass fibre, Special-Container & Flat Glass, Mineral Wool, Mortar, and Pre-cast Concrete).

At the cornerstone of the Agreement is a risk-assessment procedure to help determine which measures and good practices to apply in order to improve workers protection. To this effect, a set of detailed task sheets corresponding to the specific industrial settings encountered in the signatory industries was drafted and compiled in a Good Practice Guide annexed to the Agreement, which in addition provides dust monitoring, health surveillance and training recommendations.

The Agreement came into force on 25 October 2006, six months after its signature. The signatories form together NEPSI, the European Network on Silica. See website www.nepsi.eu. The dissemination and application of the Agreement is managed by a bi-partite NEPSI Council, supported by a Secretariat.

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While previous agreements of this kind were sector-specific, this multi-sectoral agreement is a premiere. In addition, it is the first agreement to be strongly supported by structured reporting of key performance indicators of its application at site, company, national and sector levels to a bi-partite Council set-up by the Parties. The Agreement, translated into 20 EU languages, is also the first social dialogue agreement to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The legal basis of such a social dialogue agreement is Art. 139 of the EC Treaty which provides the possibility for management and labour to enter into contractual relations and notably to sign Agreements. These may be given legal force through a decision by the Council and its transposition into the legislation of each Member State, or else be implemented autonomously by the social partners according to national procedures and practices.

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