Under the Occupational Health Plan (PST) 2005-2009, the French Ministry of Employment entrusted Afsset with the task of organising the independent and collective scientific expert assessment phase required to establish occupational exposure limit values (OELVs) which represent a key occupational risk prevention tool.
The expert assessments to be conducted will use the scientific and technical information available to assess:
the effects of chemical substances on human health with a view to issuing recommendations on the possible values to adopt to protect workers' health;
The organisation of the scientific expert assessment phase required to establish occupational exposure limit values (OELVs) was entrusted to Afsset under the Occupational Health Plan 2005-2009 (PST).
At the same time, Afsset must submit a list of chemical substances to be assessed as a priority to the French Ministry of Employment for drawing up the working programme for the OELV assessments. This proposal may take account of the consistency analysis also requested of the agency with a view to comparing and assessing the "safety margins" offered or not by the OELVs with regard to existing human toxicity values (HTVs).
This scientific expert assessment phase, conducted using the available data, must be collective, multidisciplinary and independent to provide the State with a basis for making its risk management decisions, particularly for establishing OELVs.
Accordingly, the French OELV establishment system comprises three clearly distinct phases:
an independent scientific expert assessment phase (the only phase entrusted to Afsset);
a phase for establishing a draft regulation for a binding or indicative limit value by the French Ministry of Employment;
a social discussion phase when the draft regulation is presented to the French High Council for Occupational Risk Prevention (CSPRP) with a view to determining the possible application timeframes taking account of the technical and economic feasibility problems likely to be encountered. This is to ensure the effectiveness of the limit values.
The scientific expert assessment phase entrusted to Afsset involves, firstly, assessing the effects of chemical substances on human health with a view to formulating recommendations on the possible values to be adopted to protect workers' health and, secondly, assessing the exposure levels and available measurement methods, with a view to recommending technically applicable measurement methods for measuring occupational exposure levels.