The European and Greek approach of the cement industry to achieve the goal of zero CO2 emissions by 2050 includes the following:
Participation in the 5C approach framework: Clinker, Cement, Concrete, Construction & built environment, and (re)Carbonation.
Actions to integrate innovative technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).
Supporting the cement industry to achieve its goals regarding its gradual decarbonization2.
Market availability of low carbon footprint products.
Use of alternative fuels.
The cement industry is committed to high standards to protect the health and safety of its people and the communities around its plants. Aiming for “Zero Harm” for its employees and contractors, it continuously improves health and safety practices, behaviors and procedures in order to foster a work culture that promotes health and safety. Continuous monitoring of key performance indicators (KPIs) and health and safety best practices sharing are part of this process.
“Zero Harm” Employee Protection Culture
Safeguarding employee’s health and ensuring proper working conditions are top priorities of the cement industry. The production, storage, transportation and distribution of cement and related products may result to potential hazards that must be controlled in advance. Therefore, the industry constantly:
The main legislative texts the companies in the sector comply with, regarding the protection of health and safety at work, as well as communication with the users of the products, are the following:
The Greek cement industry fully complies with the obligations described in the REACH and CLP regulations, the aim of which is to protect human health and the environment.
Harmonized information concerning the emergency response to health risk situations (Annex VIII of the CLP Regulation):
According to Article 45 of the CLP Regulation, companies placing dangerous mixtures on the market are obliged to provide information about them to the competent national authorities. National bodies make this information available to poison control centers so that they can advise citizens or medical personnel in the event of an emergency. Annex VIII of the CLP Regulation, adopted in March 2017, sets out the harmonized requirements for poison center notifications (PCNs) with effect from 1 January 2021. In addition, there is an acceptance period of the existing regime until 1 January 2025 for producers and importers who have submitted information regarding hazardous mixtures to a designated body before the date of implementation.
CEMBUREAU has highlighted the functionality issues for the cement industry and for this reason has developed the “standard compositions” approach to cement. The Commission’s final proposal and the 2nd amendment of the legal text made in August 2020, includes the concept of standardized composition.
Clinker is an ingredient and is therefore exempted from the registration obligation under the REACH Regulation. However, it must be classified and labelled, and a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) must be provided if it is placed on the market, and this classification and labeling must have been notified to the European Chemicals Agency. Cement is a mixture and therefore not subject to REACH, although it too must be classified and labelled. However, because it is a mixture, its classification and labeling are not required to be notified to the European Chemicals Agency. An SDS should be provided, including potential exposure scenarios.
In addition, CEMBUREAU has ready-made standard Safety Data Sheets for its members, covering both Portland clinker and common cements which take into account REACH requirements.
Scientific studies have shown that cement and its mixtures containing hexavalent chromium may under certain conditions cause allergic reactions if there is direct and prolonged contact with human skin. All cement uses involve the risk of direct and prolonged contact with human skin, with the exception of controlled closed and fully automated processes (Directive 2003/53/EC).
Cements and cement mixtures not already classified and not labeled as sensitizing substances with the hazard statement “H317 May cause an allergic skin reaction” but containing, when hydrated, a percentage of soluble hexavalent chromium of more than 0.0002% of the total dry cement weight, must bear the statement: EU H203 — “Contains hexavalent chromium. May cause an allergic skin reaction” on their packaging.
In case that reducing agents are used, the packaging of the cement or mixtures containing cement should include information on the date of packaging, conditions and storage period suitable for maintaining the action of the reducing agent and limiting the soluble content hexavalent chromium below 0.0002% of the total dry weight of the ready-to-use cement.
Crystalline silicon is a core component in many materials used in industrial production and life. Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is the respirable dust fraction of crystalline silica that enters the body through inhalation. Although crystalline silica is widespread in nature, its inhalation can pose a hazard to workers.
In March 2022, the amended Carcinogens, Mutagens and Reprotoxic agents Directive (CMD) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The revised Directive sets the European binding occupational exposure limit value (BOELV) for RCS released from a production process at 0.1 mg/m³. Member States have put into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions required to comply with this Directive since January 2020 by establishing national binding occupational exposure limit values (BOELVs) for RCS. Some Member States have set values stricter than the European limit.
Article 18a of the CMRD Directive stipulates that the Commission, in the context of the next evaluation of the implementation of that Directive referred to in Article 17a of Directive 89/391/EEC, will also assess the need to modify the limit value for respirable crystalline silica.
The Hellenic Cement Industry Association, participates through CEMBUREAU in the NEPSI (European Network for Silica) Social Dialogue Agreement that connects workers and employers for the protection of workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) released by production processes in the workplace.
Through the NEPSI collaboration, a set of guidelines and assessments has been developed regarding the obligations to minimize exposure to RCS, taking into account the wide variety of industrial conditions and the best ways to address them with sector-specific technical expertise. Therefore, the NEPSI collaboration complements the general requirements of the CMD Directive and participants implement these requirements in a thorough and specialized manner.
NEPSI network’s stakeholders acknowledge the positive role of best practices provided in the “Social Dialogue Agreement for the Protection of Workers’ Health through the Correct Management and Use of Crystalline Silica and Products Containing it” (the NEPSI Agreement).
The NEPSI agreement is recognized in the first and second revisions of the CMD Directive, directives (EU) 2017/2398 and 2019/130, as a valuable and necessary tool to complement regulatory requirements and support their effective implementation. The last provision of data to the NEPSI system was in 2022. The final report will be published at the end of 2022. CEMBUREAU announces that in 2020, thanks to the efforts of its members, a 100% level of reporting for production facilities was achieved and that 98.93 % of workers potentially exposed to respirable crystalline silicate (RCS) are covered by risk assessment, while also an improvement has been achieved in all key performance indicators (KPIs).
CEMBUREAU is an active supporter of NEPSI’s activities and is working on the future of the “Social Dialogue Agreement for the Protection of Workers’ Health through the Correct Management and Use of Crystalline Silica and Products Containing It” (“NEPSI SDA”). Some of the projects are the revision of the NEPSI Best Practices Guide, the development of a standardized RCS measurement methodology and the development of e-learning programs for employees and SMEs.