Use chemicals safely at work
The safe use of chemicals in your workplace is essential for your health and wellbeing. The EU laws on chemicals, known as REACH, CLP and the Biocidal Products regulations, can help.
By law, you have to be provided with information that can help to answer these important questions: how hazardous are the chemicals and products that you handle and how can you use them safely?
For hazardous substances, suppliers now need to include more information in safety data sheets and on labels. Your employer has to use this information to put risk management measures in place to make sure that chemicals are used safely at your workplace.
These legal requirements apply equally to all companies – no matter which EU country they are based in or whether they manufacture, import or use chemicals.
Thanks to these laws, we now have:
- New knowledge about the hazards, exposure, risks of chemicals, and measures to control them.
- Improved communication between users and suppliers.
- Increased control of substances of concern – limiting their use or completely removing them from the European market and replacing them with safer alternatives.
The ultimate goal is to reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals and help prevent illnesses, injuries and accidents.
"We have supported REACH right from the beginning and we believe it is improving working environments," says Tony Musu from the European Trade Unions Confederation, who closely follows the work of ECHA as a representative of workers.
You can also play an active role.
Use the ECHA website as a source of information and put this knowledge to work in your workplace.
- REACH 2018 leaflet for workers
- Commission's information leaflet for workers
- Chemicals in the workplace - ECHA workshop 1
- ECHA/ETUC/EU-OSHA awareness raising leaflets
- Interviews with trade union representatives
- REACH – an opportunity for the trade unions
- Trade Unions and REACH
- European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
- European Commission Health & Safety at Work website
- Biocidal Products Regulation leaflet [PDF]
Labels can help you identify which chemicals are hazardous and how they can harm you.
Safety data sheets contain information on how you can handle chemicals safely and protect yourself.
Find information on ECHA's website about the hazardous and more widely used chemicals on the EU market and how they are classified.
REACH introduces the maximum recommended levels for exposure to chemicals. Similarly, the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) introduces acceptable exposure levels for users of biocidal products.
REACH, CLP and the BPR promote the replacement of the most hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives.