Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers

Existing legislation in Europe sets Occupational Exposure Limits (OEL) for lead in blood of employees in battery plants at 70 µg lead per dl blood (µg/dl). The EU Scientific and Social Committee for Occupational Exposure Limits (SCOEL) has proposed to decrease this limit to 30 µg/dl per exposed person and has also proposed a 0.1 mg/m3 OEL for sulphuric acid mist. Other limits also apply where SCOEL has made a recommendation.

EUROBAT is actively involved in industry efforts on lowering blood lead limits and our members are doing much more by taking the proactive initiative to voluntarily start activities to reduce their employee’s exposure. The Industry has developed guidelines to lower blood lead, known as “The EUROBAT Blood Lead Mitigation Programme”. EUROBAT adopted this mitigation programme in 2000 and revised it in 2013 and in 2017.

The cornerstones of the 2017 programme are that:

It is our strategic objective to minimise the Lead exposure of our employees in the European Union to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable. This will be achieved by setting a target to reduce blood lead levels of all employees to below 25 μg/dl by the end of 2019 and below 20 μg/dl by end of 2025.

Taking into account the Derived No-Effect Level for Lead in Blood, and due to the specific sensitivity of unborn children, a specific exposure limit of 10 μg/dl applies in addition for female employees at the age of childbearing capacity.

Manufacturers of Lead-based batteries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa which are not yet Members of EUROBAT will also be encouraged to follow the provisions of the 2017 programme in order to ensure full industry coverage. 

The basic levels of the Blood Lead Reduction Guidelines are a list of control measures that combine activities in the following areas:

  • Technical controls
  • Personal & general hygiene rules & practices
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Training and Counselling

Industry experience shows that there is not a strong link between lead in blood and lead in the air. EUROBAT therefore considers all measures described in the guidelines as having equal priority.

Each year, EUROBAT will also organise an Occupational Exposure Workshop for EHS managers from all companies manufacturing lead-based batteries within the European Union. The aim of these workshops is to facilitate knowledge sharing on those best practice measures most effective in protecting workers within the battery industry.

EUROBAT believes that supporting the legislative bodies and adopting voluntary programmes demonstrate the benefits of achieving desired improvements that have traditionally been set as legally binding limits. The biggest benefit of all is for employees of EUROBAT Member companies – improvement of their health.