Are you ready for REACH?
Cleaning & Maintenance magazine ran a special report in he April 2015 edition on REACH from the point of view of Selden Research, our primary chemical supplier. Missed the article? Read on…
When we’re developing new cleaning products, safety and sustainability are two of the most important considerations. Of course, products have to do the job they’re designed for, but we are constantly striving to bring the market greener products that have positive environmental attributes.
The cleaning and FM sector has made giant strides in recent years in making the industry both safer and greener. Safety procedures are constantly being updated and, through better education and training, the industry is safer than at any time in its past. And its possibly about to get safer still, with the introduction of two big changes that are coming from the EU which are bound to have a big impact on our industry.
Most managers in the cleaning industry will be aware of COSHH, but perhaps aren’t as well versed in the workings of REACH, but they should be as together they will change the way the whole supply chain works.
What is REACH?
REACH entered into force in June 2001 and is being implemented by June 2018, although it is casing a lot of confusion on the industry and non-compliance is a rife right across the EU.
The main objective of REACH is to achieve a higher level of protection for human health, as well as producing greener and more sustainable cleaning products. REACH is supposed to provide a single regulatory framework for the control of chemicals, replacing the previous patch-work of controls, and ensuring information on the properties of the chemicals is transmitted down the supply chain, and enabling them to be safely handled.
Before REACH, a risk assessment was done on a neat product with a view to how it was being used. Now risk assessments must be done on both near product and diluted product at the dilution rate and task that the product is used.
The changed to COSHH came about as a result of the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation, or CLP. The EU wanted to harmonise the classification and labelling of chemicals with other countries outside Europe. There’s been a long transition period from 2009 to June 2015 – but for those who haven’t made the necessary changes, time is really running out!
Although COSHH and REACH are aimed at different sectors, the two should actually be seen as being ‘joined at the hip’ as they bring manufacturers and other stakeholders in the supply chain much closer together. They sit side by side as both of them require risk assessment. Under REACH it is the supplier of the product who must assess risk, With COSHH is is the responsibility of the employer of the person using a product to assess risk.
What of the 2018 deadline?
The 2018 deadline is a red herring, as the regulation is already on the statue books and any accident claim or prosecution will be contested under REACH rules. To all intents and purposes the only relevance of 2018 is that SDS (safety data sheets) and exposure scenarios will change on a regular basis up to and probably way beyond the turn of the decade.
The labelling of most products will change this summer, and the SDS will change with them. We certainly cant resist the change, our mission is to embrace the change as one that is good for employees, good for working practices, good for the environment, and crucially something that takes the guess work out of out industry.
It’s a big change, and a major issue that the EU will have is ensuring complete compliance. At the moment there seems to be a lot of confusion in the industry, but companies in the FM and cleaning sector shouldn’t wait until 2018 – they need to familiarise themselves with REACH as soon as they can.