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Enforcement project calls for improved safety information to protect workers from chemical hazards

ECHA/PR/18/17

Companies have systems in place to communicate safe use information down the supply chain. However, according to the findings of an EU-wide enforcement project, the quality of this information needs to be improved to protect workers from hazardous chemicals.

Helsinki, 13 December 2018 – During the fifth EU-wide Forum enforcement project (REF-5), enforcement authorities from 29 EU and EEA countries conducted 898 inspections for 1 435 substances. The project focused on checking how companies communicate safety information on hazardous chemicals to their customers.

The project aimed to raise awareness about the extended safety data sheet (SDS) and to get a picture of how effectively the safe use information they contain is communicated to the users.

Inspectors focused on companies’ obligation under REACH to prepare an exposure scenario, which describes the risk management measures in the chemical safety report, and to ensure that the information from this scenario is passed down the supply chain in an extended SDS.

The inspectors also checked whether the downstream users implement these risk management measures or prepare their own safety assessment. The inspectors gave special attention to whether workers handling hazardous chemicals had received safe use information and to how this was applied in the workplace. REACH inspectors, occupational health and safety inspectors as well as environmental inspectors worked together in this project.

The project’s key finding was that while companies have systems in place to communicate safe use information down the supply chain, the quality of this information needs to improve significantly.

18 % of the companies were non-compliant with at least one of the duties covered by the enforcement project. In total, 296 infringements were reported and 665 enforcement measures were taken. 36 % of these measures were verbal advice, 33 % written advice, 16 % administrative orders and 4 % fines.

The findings in the report support the actions identified in the Commission’s REACH Review. The report also gives recommendations to the Commission and ECHA to prioritise the implementation of the review’s actions.

Background

The Forum for Exchange of Information on Enforcement (Forum) is a network of authorities responsible for the enforcement of the REACH, CLP, BPR and PIC regulations in the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.


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