Inspection data suggests that a quarter of chemical companies have not been complying with the European chemicals legislation, Reach

Inspection data suggests that a quarter of chemical companies have not been complying with European chemicals legislation.

Agencies enforcing the Registration, evaluation, and authorisation of chemicals (Reach) regulations carried out 1,600 inspections across Europe between May and December 2009, and infringements of Reach obligations were noted at 24 per cent of the inspected companies, according to a report by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).


The inspections, covering Reach rules on pre-registration, registration and safety data sheets, found 378 companies were not sticking to the regulation’s requirements.

After checking 5,137 substances and preparations, safety data sheets (SDSs) that detail the hazards a chemical presents and provide information on handling, storage and emergency measures in case of accidents, were found to be missing in 28 per cent of cases.

The level of non-compliance on registration matters could be set to rise after the next deadline for substance registration passes later this year. By 1 December dossiers will have to be submitted to the ECHA on chemicals with outputs of 1,000 tonnes a year or more and particularly hazardous substances.

Some companies appeared to have kept chemicals on the market without pre-registering, when they should have been registered to remain legally available.

’[Other pre-registration infringements can], for example, cover cases where the substance identification number is not correct, the name is incorrect or the substance does not have a phase-in status [i.e. is listed in the European Inventory of Existing Commercial Chemical Substances, or has been manufactured in or imported into the EU at least once since 1995],’ says an ECHA official.

’We welcome this report by ECHA on enforcement, particularly with respect to the enforcement of the rules on safety data sheets,’ says Jo Lloyd, technical director at ReachReady, a consultancy set up by the UK Chemical Industries Association. ’The major objective of Reach is the communication of safety information down the supply chain so it is very important that the SDS rules are enforced.’

’Our policy on enforcement is to be proportionate and pragmatic,’ says Mike Potts of the Reach enforcement unit at the UK Health and Safety Executive. ’We deal with non-compliance on a case-by-case basis. With safety data sheets, for example, if a company has all the relevant information for safe use of the substance on the SDS and the SDS complied with the previous legislation, but they have yet to update it into the required Reach format, we would provide guidance as to how they can put it right.’

Sean Milmo