Brexit has not changed a company’s responsibility to protect the health and safety of people affected by its work activities. However, now the UK has left the EU, certain rules and procedures have changed for some construction companies. One of these is REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals).
REACH operates alongside COSHH. It sees better information on the hazards of chemicals and how to use them safely passed down the supply chain by chemical manufacturers and importers through improved safety data sheets.
From 1st January 2021, we have UK REACH. Our own version of the EU REACH Regulation, it will maintain the EU REACH’s aims and principles. UK REACH is the UK’s independent chemicals regulatory framework providing the regulatory framework for chemicals in Great Britain.
The EU REACH Regulation continues to apply to Northern Ireland.
All companies making, selling, or distributing chemicals in the UK and the EU now need to follow UK REACH and EU REACH rules.
Which companies are affected by UK REACH?
Most companies use chemicals in some way. Based on how they use chemicals, they may have specific obligations under 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 the company size
- Makes a company responsible for the safe use of the substances they place on the market or use
- Requires everyone in the supply chain to communicate information on the safe use of chemicals
UK REACH Roles
There are 3 main types of REACH dutyholder. Construction companies are most likely to be classified as a Downstream User. These are companies or individual workers who directly handle chemical substances in the course of their business activities and are not themselves the GB-based manufacturer or importer of the substances.
The role a company previously undertook within EU REACH may have changed significantly under UK REACH. So, it is important to review the company’s role(s). For example, some companies who were classed as downstream users under EU REACH may find that they are now classed as importers under UK REACH if they are sourcing substances directly from the EU/EEA. This will mean they may have new registration responsibilities.
More detail about these new responsibilities and how to register can be found on the HSE website by clicking here.
What to do next about UK REACH?
Companies must ensure that they meet their relevant duties under both UK and EU REACH if their business is supplying or purchasing substances, mixtures, or articles to and from:
- the European Union (EU)
- the European Economic Area (EEA)
- Northern Ireland (NI)
- Great Britain (GB) (England, Scotland and Wales)
There may be actions to be taken to maintain or gain access to these markets.
The UK Government has published detailed guidance called How to comply with the EU and UK REACH chemical regulations when using, making, selling or importing chemicals in the UK and in the EU. and other information and guidance can be found at https://www.echa.europa.eu/home and on the HSE website: www.hse.gov.uk/reach