Prompt compliance with new chemical legislation gives commercial advantage, advise Walker Morris
Companies that are quick to comply with recently introduced, far-reaching chemical safety legislation will have real commercial advantage over rivals who are slow to act, specialist lawyers at Walker Morris advised today.
REACH – ‘Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Registration of Chemicals’ – came into force on June 1 and is one of the most complex legislation ever enacted by the EU. It has implications for businesses in all sectors of the economy – it affects not just chemical companies but all those downstream users who use chemicals in some aspects of their day-to-day business operations – from painters and decorators to ball point pen manufacturers.
The legislation places responsibility for ensuring the safety of chemical substances onto all companies who manufacture, import and use them. Companies have 18 months to ensure that all relevant chemical substances and preparations are identified and pre-registered with a central European Chemicals Agency in Helsinki.
Dr. Roger Lowe, a member of the specialist REACH team at Walker Morris, said today:-
“Many chemical industry customers and investors have begun to express a distinct preference for those companies who are already engaged in REACH compliance, or will be shortly. They see it as a good sign of an efficient and well-run company and they know such firms are bound to attract the most business as we move closer to the enforcement phases.”
Dr Lowe added:-
“Those firms who have already made changes to their production methods and who have collated the necessary information to ensure full REACH compliance are in excellent position to capitalise on that position over the next year and a half. Customers will see them as a better, longer-term bet for business than those firms who are still struggling to be REACH-ready.”
Walker Morris is one of the first law firms in the country to be appointed to REACHMatchMaker, a national panel established by the Chemicals Industry Association (CIA) to help Britain’s £50 billion chemical industry prepare for REACH by putting them in touch with specialist advisers. REACH is thought to be the most complex piece of legislation ever created by the European Union. Advisers on the REACHMatchmaker scheme have had to undergo a rigorous approval process.
Dr Lowe added:-
“REACH is a highly complex piece of legislation which will touch tens of thousands of companies in the UK, from manufacturers and importers of chemicals to companies that use chemical substances in their industrial or professional activities. This could be anyone from a building company or a motor repairer to a ball point pen manufacturer.”
REACH will be administered by the new European Chemicals Agency. It applies to all chemicals, whether standalone or used as ingredients in processes and to preparations, manufactured in the EU, or imported into the EU, in quantities greater than one tonne per year.
Under the new law, chemical companies will have a new range of legal responsibilities, including:-
• Registering all relevant chemicals with the European Chemicals Agency
• Testing the substance (unless sufficient safety data already exists)
• Preparing safety data sheets for the use of a chemical
• Sharing safety data with other companies in order to produce unified, industry-wide safety dossiers.
Downstream users of chemicals and preparations are advised to talk to their suppliers and determine whether the introduction of REACH will affect the supply of any chemicals necessary for the conduct of their business.
Dr Lowe added:
“With REACH’s requirement for the registration and pooling of data, it is especially important for all relevant businesses to identify the most commercially sensitive aspects of their chemical use, and decide how best to protect them. They may also need professional assistance to ensure that intellectual property is not compromised by the requirements of REACH.”
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