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Has Leaving The EU Impacted REACH and the UK's Chemical Safety?

Has Leaving The EU Impacted REACH and the UK's Chemical Safety?
25/01/2022

Chemical safety is essential. Most industries have safety standards, but dealing with chemicals brings more risk than other industries: chemicals can have serious knock-on effects, from life-changing injuries to environmental disaster.

That’s why chemical safety regulations are so important. The EU responded to chemical safety concerns in 2006 with Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).

Of course, the UK was a part of these regulations. However, Brexit has changed things. When it comes to REACH, are we still part of the EU? What is REACH compliance now?

Below, we answer what REACH is, what the regulations say and whether we’re part of the regulations after Brexit.

What is REACH? So, what are the REACH regulations? As mentioned, REACH stands for “Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals”.

They aim to achieve three key things:

To protect people, employees and the environment from the use of chemicals. To make the manufacturers of chemicals aware of the risks of chemicals and ensure they remain responsible for them. To show alternative methods for the assessment of hazardous substances. Previously, too much risk was associated with chemical use. By using catch-all guidance, the EU was able to ensure each member state could trade and trust the source of chemicals they were importing.

Generally, REACH puts the burden of proof on companies.

This means you are responsible for chemical risks, and it is up to you to identify and manage the risks with the chemicals and substances you’re producing or shipping to Britain.

As a business, you must list the risks and how to use the chemical safely, which reduces the risks associated with handling and manufacturing chemical material.

However, the application of chemicals varies on a business-by-business and country-by-country basis. That’s where your own chemical safety practices and risk assessments come into play.

We’ve covered the risks associated with chemical use in these blogs:

Safety Labels for Chemicals Spill Control: How to Safely Store Liquids GHS: What is a GHS Label and Why is it Used? Do I Need To Follow REACH Compliance and Regulations? You must follow REACH regulations if you are part of manufacturing, importing, distributing or using chemical raw materials or products.

The rules apply to you regardless of company size. No matter your company, you are ultimately responsible for the safe use of chemical substances.

That means you and every single person in your chemical supply chain must follow REACH guidance to the letter.

Post-Brexit Chemical Management: Has Leaving The EU Impacted REACH? As of January 1st, 2021, EU REACH no longer applies to the UK. Instead, the UK Government has drawn up a separate document: UK REACH. The end of the transition period always meant withdrawing from EU REACH.

REACH and other chemical regulations were retained as part of the transition period under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. However, secondary legislation has passed that amends REACH since.

Under new rules, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is nominated as the UK’s REACH Competent Agency, meaning they have full responsibility for chemical management in the UK.

Broadly, the rules remain the same. Legislation authors were told to replicate the EU REACH standards as closely as possible and, for the most part, chemical management can carry on without issue.

However, the story of UK REACH hasn’t been fully told. Industry leaders have raised concerns about transparency, with costs possibly being higher due to Brexit.

The full documentation is found on the HSE site. For now, you can get away with following the older rules and committing to using quality chemical hazard warning signs.

Browse Our Range of REACH-Ready Labels Today Either way, you need to prioritise chemical safety. The best way to do that is with reliable signs, labels and symbols.

Discover our range of chemical hazard warning signs today. These cover everything from shipping to employee safety, all with high-quality materials.

For everything else, follow our Twitter for the latest safety news.

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