Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the subsequent transition period, the EU REACH Regulation has been brought into UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. REACH, and related legislation, have been replicated in the UK with the necessary changes to make it operable in a domestic context. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol the EU REACH Regulation continues to apply to Northern Ireland, while UK REACH will regulate the access of substances to the GB market.
What is UK REACH?
As of 1 January 2021, the UK REACH and the EU REACH regulations operate independently from each other. Companies that supply and purchase substances, mixtures or articles to and from the EU/EEA/Northern Ireland and Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) will need to ensure that the relevant duties are met under both pieces of legislation.
UK REACH applies to the majority of chemical substances; those used in industrial processes and daily life, for example in cleaning products, paints as well as in articles such as clothes, furniture and electrical appliances.
UK REACH places the burden of proof on companies. Companies are required to identify and manage the risks present by substances they manufacture and market in GB. They must be able to demonstrate how the substance can be used safely and they must communicate the risk management measures to the users.
Aims of UK REACH
- To provide a high level of protection of human health and the environment from the use of chemicals.
- To make the people who place chemicals on the market (manufacturers and importers) responsible for understanding and managing the risks associated with their use.
- To promote the use of alternative methods for the assessment of the hazardous properties of substances eg quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR) and read across.
Is your company affected by UK REACH?
Most companies use chemicals in some way so you may have obligations under UK REACH. However, not every company will have specific duties. You will need to consider how you use chemicals and what your obligations may be. Remember that UK REACH:
- Covers all sectors manufacturing, importing, distributing or using chemicals as raw materials or finished products (not only the chemical industry)
- Applies regardless of your company size
- Makes you responsible for the safe use of the substances you place on the market or use
- Requires every actor in the supply chain to communicate information on the safe use of chemicals
What is UK REACH? published by HSE: https://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/whatisreach.htm