The annexes of Hungarian decree No. 25/2000 (IX.30) on the Chemical Safety of Workplaces issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, which has been amended several times, contain more than 300 workplace air limit values (OELs).
The list of OELs has been compiled and updated by an ad-hoc team of experts, involving toxicologists, chemists, industrial hygienists and occupational physicians, in the Hungarian Institute of Occupational Health (HIOH – OMFI; department of the NFSZ – Nemzeti Foglalkoztatási Szolgálat (Nemzeti Munkaügyi Hivatal)). All OELs set by the EU were adopted; most of the other values were adopted from developed, industrialized countries (first and foremost from Germany); certain older values were developed by Hungarian experts. The Hungarian Institute of Occupational Health recommends that the list of OELs be updated.
The OELs are published as an annex to Decree 25/2000 (IX.30) EüM-SzCsM. Observation is compulsory. Responsibility is the employer's; the supervising authority is the occupational health inspectorate.
The workplace air OELs are ÁK, CK and MK values.
ÁK (average concentration): Permissible average concentration of a chemical in the workplace air which will not cause reversible or irreversible damage to the health of the worker or his offspring as a consequence of occupational exposure for the legally regulated duration (8 hours/day, 5 days/week, 252 working days/year) over his entire working life (18 to 62 years of age).
CK (peak concentration): Depending upon the danger presented by the chemical, this value is 1 to 8 times higher than the ÁK value and is permitted for a maximum of 4 times 15 minutes during one shift. The CK value is included in the ÁK value.
MK (maximum concentration): Also indicated in Decree 25/2000 (IX.30) EüM-SzCsM, amended several times (e.g. for genotoxic and/or carcinogenic substances). The concentration of the chemical in the workplace air must not exceed the MK value, even briefly. (The MK value for carcinogens is described as a socially acceptable limit value, which must not exceed the approximate estimate of the 10 micro risk; this value corresponds to the frequency of fatal work accidents in an industrial sector with a medium risk of accidents.)
Obligatory air monitoring is performed at workplaces. Samples and measurements are taken by accredited laboratories using accredited methods.
Non-observance of the limit values is followed by on-site investigation and appropriate penalties. The examinations and the cases of limit value violations are reported annually; reports on cases of occupational poisoning and increased exposure are presented to the Parliament. According to the amendments in 1997 and 2001 of Act No. XCIII/1993 and Act No. XXV/2000, the performance of quantitative risk assessment regarding chemicals is compulsory at workplaces. (It is performed in conjunction with workplace environmental and biological monitoring.)