Limit Values France - VLE

In France, three types of occupational exposure limit value (OEL) currently exist, which differ in their legal status.

  • Restrictive statutory limit values established by Council-of-State decree and integrated into clause R 231-58 of the French labour code. In the past, certain restrictive limit values were set within other frameworks, e.g. for asbestos or crystalline silica. Points to be checked, methods to be applied and measurement frequencies may be defined. For agents classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic (CMR), in particular, clause R 231-56-4-1 makes provision for the performance of technical testing at least once a year by a body approved by the French Labour Ministry; the purpose of testing is to verify compliance with these limit values. In the event of confirmed exposure above a restrictive statutory limit value, a factory inspector may order work to cease until appropriate measures are taken.
  • Indicative statutory limit values established by decree in application of clause R 232-5-5 of the French labour code. Should exposure above an indicative statutory limit value be confirmed, a factory inspector may require appropriate measures to be taken to remedy the situation.
  • Between 1982 and 1996, several hundred indicative limit values were published in French labour ministry circulars. These values only constitute references for prevention purposes and will gradually be replaced by restrictive or indicative statutory limit values.

The French Labour Ministry is responsible for setting OELs. The process by which OELs are set comprises three phases:

  • A phase involving scientific specialist opinion, under the responsibility of the Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail (anses) (French agency for environmental and occupational health safety) from 2007 onwards;
  • A phase involving preparation by the labour ministry of a draft statutory text setting a restrictive or indicative statutory limit value;
  • A phase involving consultation of employers and trade unions, with submission of the draft statutory text to the Conseil Supérieur de Prévention des Risques Professionnels (CSPRP) (Higher Council for the Prevention of Occupational Risks); this phase allows the application of OELs to be discussed in relation to the work processes concerned and envisaged application times.

The Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité (INRS) (National research and safety institute for the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases) has published a document (in French only) consolidating the OELs now in force in France. This document is updated with each change1.

August 2013


1 Valeurs limites d'exposition professionnelle aux agents chimiques en France [Occupational exposure limit values for occupational exposure to chemical agents in France], ED 984, INRS, Paris, 2012