The members of BCI and EUROBAT have committed to reduce blood lead levels for all employees to below 30 microgrammes per deciliter (μg/dl) by the end of 2016.
The two associations, which represent 90% of lead-based battery manufacturers from across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, have voluntarily set the limit to safeguard workers.
Alfons Westgeest, Executive Director of EUROBAT, said of the agreement: "This is well below the limits set by current European Union and U.S. legislation and shows that the battery industry is serious about continuously improving the protection of its workers. It also shows that industry can take its fair share of responsibility and ensure the controlled conditions of work on its own."
Members of the two organisations had just under 30 000 employees under medical surveillance for blood lead levels in 2012, the new objective will apply to all these workers.
Mark Thorsby, Executive Vice-President of Battery Council International said this commitment is going a step further than the voluntary compliance programmes the USA and Europe each have to ensure the same level of protection of workers on both sides of the Atlantic.
The current blood-lead limit in the US, set by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, requires that employees of lead-based battery manufacturing companies be removed from their jobs if their blood lead levels exceed 50 μg/dl. BCI's members have a voluntary removal level of employees at 40 μg/dl. The European Union's binding Biological Limit Value for Lead in Blood is 70μg/dl, while the Derived-No-Effect Level set by industry under the EU's REACH legislation is for 40μg/dl. The rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa have variable limits per country. This commitment will lower these levels to 30 μg/dl at the end of 2016 for all member companies.