People & Skills  

Do EU controls on hazardous substances REACH you?

Manufacturers are being warned they could face unlimited fines or even prison if they fail to adhere to the requirements of a European Regulation regarding the restriction or banning of certain hazardous substances
 List of substances can be found on the ECHA website

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A survey by the manufacturer’s organisation, EEF has shown there is a worrying lack of understanding towards the full scope and significance of REACH, especially among smaller manufacturers.

The research reveals that 20 percent of companies believe the REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) Regulation to be limited to chemical companies, with almost a third saying it isn’t important to their business.

However, the Regulation is gradually restricting the use of hazardous chemical and in certain areas enforcing a widespread ban, including several controlled substances which have been commonly used in manufacturing processes for many years.

The cost implications for businesses include evaluating and increasing worker safety, implementing controls on substances are used and identifying and integrating alternative substances where applicable.

EEF Head of Climate & Environment, Gareth Stace commented:

“REACH continues to be the ‘elephant in the room’ for many companies who are either unaware of the implications or still believe it is a chemicals-only issue.

“In contrast the regulations have serious requirements for all manufacturers who are facing either the restricted use or banning altogether of some substances.

Stace warned:

 “For many companies there is the very real risk of lost business if they are unable to advise their customers whether their products contain certain materials and, where they are, how their use is being monitored.”

 “Furthermore, if companies don’t plan for substance bans, it could prevent production entirely.”

The EEF Head concluded:

“When armed with the right information manufacturers are doing the right things – substituting substances that are of concern with safer alternatives.

“But we need to see government and European regulators and legislators to do all they can to raise awareness and make it easier for companies to understand the implications of it on their business.”

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