The agreement signed with the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) is called the European Action Guide.

The two partners signed the accord within the context of the European Commission’s “Perspectives and Challenges of the Woodworking Industries in Europe” social dialogue project.

It is being viewed as ushering in a new level of safety in the workplace up to five years in advance of any possible legislative requirement.

The Action Guide commits European panel manufacturers to a measurement, control and continuous improvement process designed to ensure worker exposure to formaldehyde is never threatening.

Based on the Operation Exposure Limit value that the EU Scientific Committee has recommended (0.3ppm TWA, 0.6ppm STEL), the initiative improves protection via a colour coded zoning system.

Rolf Hehring, of the EFBWW, said the days of autocratic, hierarchical management in the industry was now past.

“The ‘One brain, many hands’ approach of the past will increasingly be replaced by co-operation, direct participation and voluntary agreements between employer and employee,” he said.

“This Action Guide is a model example of this.”