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REACH Regulation

The European Union has adopted a new system to control the risks which chemicals may pose to human health and the environment. The REACH Regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restrictions of Chemicals) came into force on 1 June 2007. It forms the EU’s framework legislation for the management, control and use of chemicals, replacing much of the current patchwork of over 40 separate pieces of legislation over a phase-in period.

REACH is being introduced progressively, starting in June 2007 until full implementation in 2018. In summary, manufacturers, importers, distributors and professional users who market or use chemicals must ensure those chemicals are registered with the new European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki, which will oversee the operation of REACH throughout the EU. Before a chemical can be registered, the applicant must provide information about the characteristics and hazards, if any, associated with that chemical.

REACH also requires information about the risks associated with chemicals to be set out and provided to users in ‘safety data sheets’. Those chemicals which pose a serious hazard may be banned (i.e. “restricted”), or may be used only following the grant of a specific “authorisation”.

REACH will therefore apply not only to chemical manufacturers or suppliers, but to any business which uses chemicals – so a wide range of businesses will need to take account of REACH and may be affected by the enforcement arrangements.

REACH is a European Regulation, which means it is part of our law without the need for transposition. However, REACH requires that each Member State must set up a system of controls and penalties for breaches of the requirements in the Regulation and take the necessary measures to implement those penalties. Click here for more details on REACH.