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Liaisons with International Committees

The chair and two other members of the Commission belong to the European Commission's Scientific Committee for Occupational Exposure Limits (SCOEL). In this way, members of the working groups “Establishment of MAK Values” and “Establishment of Threshold Values in Biological Material” and the Commission's Scientific Secretariat regularly contribute input on SCOEL's proposed limit values and are intensively involved in the discussions through their own research and review of the data.

Commenting on SCOEL's proposed limit values as early as possible leads very constructively to harmonisation. More recent scientific documentation for MAK values, particularly the English translations, is often used by SCOEL as a basis on which to proceed.

Between 1 July 2000 and 31 March 2005, a member of the Scientific Secretariat was delegated to the European Commission's Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion as a national expert. This led to closer cooperation between the Commission and SCOEL and a more intensive exchange of information. Furthermore, the methods used to derive MAK values and for classification were disclosed to the committees of the European Commission which are responsible for the evaluation of chemicals.

The Dutch Expert Committee on Occupational Safety of the Gezondheidsraad (Health Council) of the Netherlands handles the evaluation of occupational substances in the Netherlands. A member of the Scientific Secretariat of the Dutch Gezondheidsraad is a guest member of the working group "Establishment of MAK Values", which guarantees a continual exchange of information. There are also agreements on the mutual use of substance documentation to avoid duplicate work and accelerate the processing of these substances.

The Commission has shared information with the Chemical Substances TLV (Threshold Limit Values) Committee of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) for many years. The various working groups and the scientific secretariats are in close contact and exchange work programmes, information and discussion material, and meeting documents to accelerate substance evaluations and avoid duplicate work.

The Commission also cooperates with the Occupational Health Standard Committee of China.

Intensive cooperation takes place with the World Health Organization (WHO) / International Labour Organization (ILO) through the production of International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSCs). ICSCs are material data sheets that present safety and health information for handling chemicals in a concise form. There are some 1700 data sheets translated into about 15 languages. The ICSC shows the MAK value and the classification for the substance in question.

The information exchange between the MAK Commission and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) based in France is ensured by a longstanding member of the Commission.

Since 2008 the German Government has proposed that a member of the MAK Commission also be a member in the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC). After the end of Professor Dr. Helmut Greim’s term of office at RAC, in 2014 the government again chose a member of the MAK Commission to be appointed as his successor. Professor Dr. Ralf Stahlmann is this new successor.

The RAC has its home in Helsinki, Finland, at the European Chemical Agency (ECHA). RAC checks the proposals submitted to the ECHA List for harmonized classification and labelling as well as applications for authorisation and restriction (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals = REACH) to check if the hazard and risk assessments of the substances under consideration are scientifically based and thoroughly justified.

On the basis of this decision process the European Commission decides on binding provisions and sanctions which apply throughout the EU.

One of the central tasks of RAC is the toxicological evaluation of chemicals, this is the same area of expertise of the MAK Commission. Therefore, a qualified specialist could efficiently be appointed to both positions at once, allowing for a smooth and logical exchange of scientific experience.