Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH)

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HSE: REACH - Contact us

If you use, supply or manufacture chemical substances, or import them from outside the European Union (EU), you must comply with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation.

If you manufacture or import chemical substances into the EU in quantities of more than one tonne per calendar year, you may have to register them. You will be committing an offence if you do not pre-register or register chemical substances covered by REACH, unless the substance is exempt.

Other requirements of REACH can affect you regardless of the quantity or your role in the supply chain. For example, if you supply or use certain chemical substances which could be particularly harmful to human health or the environment, you will have to meet certain requirements under REACH. See the page in this guideline: REACH - substances of very high concern and restricted chemicals.

Substances that REACH applies to

REACH applies to most chemical substances, either on their own or in preparations or mixtures. It is not limited to industrial chemicals and includes chemicals used in day-to-day life. Preparations or mixtures include:

  • coatings, eg paints, varnishes or enamels
  • pigments, dyes or inks
  • cleaning products
  • photographic processing chemicals
  • chemicals used to produce man-made fibres.

REACH also applies to chemicals contained in some finished products, known as articles. You must comply with REACH if you manufacture or supply articles within the EU, or are importing articles from outside the EU.

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA): Factsheet - what you need to know

HSE: REACH and articles (PDF, 97K)

REACH may also apply to a chemical substance you recover from waste in quantities of one tonne or more per calendar year.

HSE: REACH and substances recovered from waste (PDF 100K)

Some chemical substances are partially or completely exempt from REACH.

HSE: REACH and exemptions (PDF 129K)

Chemsec has developed an online resource, the Marketplace,  where businesses can source alternatives to chemicals that have health or environmental impacts. If you produce safer chemicals then you can also present your alternatives to potential customers.

Chemsec: the Marketplace

How REACH is enforced

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) manages registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction processes for chemical substances across the EU.

In the UK the competent authority for administering REACH is the HSE. The competent authority's responsibilities include:

  • providing advice to UK businesses on REACH
  • enforcing compliance
  • working with the ECHA.

Several regulators monitor and enforce the different duties under REACH. This depends on the chemical, your business type and part of the UK you operate in.

HSE: Who enforces REACH, a UK wide guide

You can email the REACH compliance team for specific queries about REACH compliance at reachcompliance@hse.gsi.gov.uk.

Further information

HSE: REACH - Contact us

HSE: REACH Registration 2018

What you must do

If you manufacture or import into the European Union (EU) one tonne or more of a chemical substance in a calendar year, you must register it with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). This applies to chemical substances on their own, in preparations or mixtures, and may also apply to finished products or articles.

Some substances are exempt from registration under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation.

The deadline for registering chemicals under REACH depends on the type of substance and the quantities you are manufacturing or importing.

You will need to fully register both:

  • existing substances, known as phase-in substances, which are generally those substances already on the market
  • new or non phase-in substances, which don't meet the criteria for a phase-in substance.

The majority of phase-in substances are those listed in the European Inventory of Existing Commercial Chemical Substances (EINECS). Some other substances may also be phase-in substances, including no-longer polymers.

HSE: Full definition of phase-in substances

Make an inventory

You should make an inventory or list of the chemical substances that your business uses, supplies, manufactures or imports. This will help you understand your responsibilities and the impact REACH will have on your business activities.

HSE: Creating an inventory (PDF, 97K)

Register pre-registered phase-in substances

If you pre-registered chemicals with ECHA as a manufacturer or importer before 1 December 2008, you must fully register by the relevant key deadline.

If you missed this pre-registration deadline, you cannot continue to produce or import the substance until you have registered it with ECHA. You should contact the REACH compliance team immediately. Email the REACH compliance team at reachcompliance@hse.gsi.gov.uk.

The first full registration deadline was 1 December 2010 for any chemicals you manufacture or import in quantities of either:

  • 1,000 tonnes or more per year
  • 100 tonnes or more if the chemical is considered very toxic to aquatic organisms
  • 1 tonne or more if the substance is carcinogenic or a reproductive toxin.

If you missed this first full registration deadline you should contact the REACH compliance team immediately.

REACH registration key deadlines

Key deadline Type and quantity of chemical substance to be registered
1 June 2013 100 tonnes or more per year of any chemical substance
1 June 2018 1 tonne or more per year of any chemical substance

 

Reach registration 2018 represents the final deadline for the registration of phase-in substances which are manufactured or imported in quantities greater than 1 tonne per annum.

HSE: REACH Registration 2018

You must register chemicals online and submit data using the ECHA REACH-IT application.

ECHA: REACH-IT applications

If you manufacture or import into the EU more than 10 tonnes of a chemical substance in a year, you may need to carry out a chemical safety assessment. You must produce a chemical safety report to show the results of your assessment and submit it to ECHA as part of your registration application. REACH specifies that your safety assessment must include a:

  • human health hazard assessment
  • human health hazard assessment of physicochemical properties
  • environmental hazard assessment
  • persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT), and very persistent and very bioaccumulative (VPVB) assessment.

For some substances, you should also carry out an:

  • exposure assessment (including a generation of exposure scenarios/or the identification of relevant use and exposure categories)
  • exposure estimation
  • risk characterisation.

ECHA: Chemical safety assessment information

Pre-register phase-in substances you manufacture or import for the first time

If you start to manufacture or import into the EU 1 tonne or more of a phase-in substance in a calendar year for the first time after 1 December 2008, you can make a late pre-registration with the ECHA. You must do this:

  • no more than six months after you begin to manufacture or import the phase-in substance
  • at least one year before the ECHA full registration deadline for the quantity and type of your chemical.

HSE: REACH pre-registration

Register non phase-in or new substances

A non phase-in or new substance under REACH is one that doesn't meet the criteria for a phase-in substance.

The first time you manufacture or import 1 tonne or more of a new or non phase-in chemical substance within a calendar year, you must register with the ECHA before you start to manufacture or import it.

ECHA: REACH registration guidance (PDF, 749K)

You should make an inquiry about whether the substance has previously been registered to the ECHA before you start to register the substance. This is to enable data sharing with other registrants, particularly data from animal tests.

Classify and label chemicals

If you manufacture or supply chemical substances, products or mixtures, you must classify and label them according to the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulations (CLP) before you put them on the market.

HSE: Labelling and Packaging

HSE: Guidance on the CLP Regulations

ECHA: REACH labelling and packaging requirements (PDF, 1.39MB)

Substance Information Exchange Forums (SIEFs)

SIEFs enable businesses that have pre-registered the same chemical to share information. You should use SIEFs to make joint registrations. You will have been automatically added to a SIEF when you pre-registered.

HSE: Information on the Substance Information Exchange Forum (SIEF)

Further information

HSE: REACH Registration 2018

HSE: REACH guidance

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA): Factsheet - what you need to know

ECHA: REACH guidance

HSE: Approved classification and labelling guide

HSE: REACH - Contact us

If you are a chemical user or distributor, you have responsibilities under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. A retailer is a distributor.

What you must do

Selling and distributing chemicals

If you distribute or sell chemical substances or mixtures which contain hazardous substances you must pass information on to your customers so that they known what the hazards are.

You must provide professional users with a safety data sheet (SDS) if the substance is classified as hazardous.

The SDS gives information on how you should handle, store and dispose of chemicals and what to do in the case of an accident.

If you receive a material without an SDS, contact your supplier to find out whether or not they have to provide one.

If the substance needs to be pre-registered or registered under REACH, you must check this before you start to supply or distribute the substance.

If you are a distributor, you may need to register substances under REACH if you import them from outside the European Union, on their own, in preparations or mixtures or in articles.

HSE: REACH – Guidance for distributors (PDF, 90K)

Using chemicals

You are a chemical user if, as a part of your work, you use:

  • any chemicals, preparations or mixtures
  • chemicals to formulate or blend preparations or mixtures
  • any chemicals, preparations or mixtures to produce articles (finished products).

If you use a chemical substance you must make sure that you:

  • identify and follow all appropriate safety measures identified by the chemical's SDS
  • only use the substance in a way that is covered by exposure scenarios contained in the SDS
  • comply with any restrictions or conditions of authorisation that have been placed on its use.

You should check that your suppliers register all the ways you use the chemicals they supply. This is to make sure that your supply of chemicals will not be disrupted. This may not be necessary if you only use the chemical in the way your supplier intended.

If you have an unusual use for a substance, you should provide your suppliers with details of how you intend to use the chemical. This will allow them to include this information in their registration.

You can choose not to give your suppliers this information if you feel it will compromise your business. In this case you must carry out your own chemical safety assessment. You will normally have to provide this information to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and any final users of the chemical.

ECHA: Chemical safety assessment (PDF, 174K)

You should make an inventory or list of chemical substances that your business uses, supplies, manufactures or imports. This will help you understand your responsibilities, what you need to do and the impact REACH will have on your business activities.

HSE: Creating an inventory (PDF, 97K)

HSE: What REACH means for users of chemicals

Controls on supplying and using certain chemicals

REACH places controls on the supply and use of certain chemical substances that cause harm to human health or to the environment.

If you supply or use a chemical substance, on its own, in preparations or mixtures or in articles, you must make sure that you meet any specific controls that apply to it.

See the page in this guideline: REACH - substances of very high concern and restricted chemicals.

Further information

HSE: REACH guidance

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA): Factsheet - what you need to know

ECHA: REACH guidance

HSE: REACH - Contact us

HSE: Guidance for users

HSE: Guidance for distributors

HSE: Creating an inventory

The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation places controls on the supply and use of certain chemical substances on their own, in preparations or mixtures, or in articles (finished products). These controls apply to substances that can be particularly harmful to human health or the environment.

There are three groups of chemicals that are specifically controlled under REACH:

  • the candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHC)
  • Annex XIV substances - priority SVHCs from the candidate list that require an authorisation for their supply and use
  • Annex XVII restricted substances - particular hazardous substances that have controls on how they can be supplied or used.

A substance can be subject to control in any or all of the groups.

What you must do

SVHC and Annex XIV substance controls

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has produced a candidate list of possible SVHCs and a recommended list of substances to be included in Annex XIV.

ECHA: List of SVHCs

ECHA: Annex XIV recommendations

If you deal with candidate SVHCs or Annex XIV substances your REACH obligations apply to any quantity or weight.

If you supply an article containing a substance on the SVHC candidate list at a concentration of 0.1 per cent or more you must give information to professional recipients on the substance and how to use it safely. If anyone requests information on the SVHC content of an article, you must provide it to them within 45 days and free of charge.

If you supply a substance on its own or in a preparation or mixture you must provide professional users with a safety data sheet if the substance is classified as hazardous.

Depending on which substance and the amount you supply, you may also need to:

  • submit a notification to ECHA
  • get an authorisation for specific uses for that substance if it appears in Annex XIV.

HSE: REACH – Substances of very high concern

Annex XVII substance restrictions

Annex XVII of REACH lists restricted chemicals with details of their restrictions and concentration limits. These chemicals are restricted to protect workers, consumers and the environment.

Restrictions may be applied to any substance, including those that do not require registration. Restrictions apply to Annex XVII substances regardless of what quantity or weight of the chemical your business deals with.

If a chemical is listed in Annex XVII, and you supply or use it on its own, in preparations or mixtures, or in articles, you must make sure that you comply with the conditions of the restriction.

If a chemical is listed in Annex XVII you must not:

  • supply or use the chemical for the restrictions outlined
  • allow or cause anyone else to break a restriction outlined.

A restriction may limit the concentration of a chemical for a particular use, or ban a use entirely.

Restricted chemicals include:

  • lead carbonates
  • lead sulphates
  • benzene
  • pentachlorophenol
  • nonylphenol and its ethoxylates
  • cadmium
  • hexachloroethane
  • creosote
  • compounds containing mercury and arsenic.

Annex XVII of REACH is subject to change. You should check it regularly to keep up to date with restrictions on the chemicals you are involved with.

To find Annex XVII, search the European law database using the terms 'REACH' with 'Annex XVII' in the simple search window (text search).

EUROPA: European law database

If you want to start using alternative chemicals you should check to make sure that they are not also likely to become restricted.

If you need to check any chemical and the restrictions on it, you should contact the UK competent authority at the HSE to find out which regulator you need to speak to. You can email the REACH Helpdesk at UKREACHCA@hse.gsi.gov.uk.

Further information

HSE: REACH guidance

ECHA: REACH guidance

HSE: REACH - Contact us

HSE: REACH – Substances of very high concern

ECHA: List of SVHCs

ECHA: Annex XIV recommendations

This page provides links to the full text of key pieces of environmental legislation relating to the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. The websites hosting the legislation may list amendments separately.

If you are setting up an environmental management system (EMS) for your business, you can use this list to start compiling your legal register. Your legal adviser or environmental consultant will be able to tell you if other environmental legislation applies to your specific business.

Environmental management systems and environmental reports

Northern Ireland

Eur-lex: List of European regulations relating to REACH

REACH Enforcement Regulations SI 2008/2852. Sets out responsibilities, powers, offences and penalties for enforcing REACH.

Scotland

Eur-lex: List of European regulations relating to REACH

REACH Enforcement Regulations SI 2008/2852. Sets out responsibilities, powers, offences and penalties for enforcing REACH.

Annex XVII of REACH is subject to change. You should check it regularly to keep up to date with restrictions on the chemicals you are involved with.

Further information

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