By Caroline Miller, CIH, CSP
In January 2017, The European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA’s) Forum for Exchange of Information on Enforcement commenced the fifth EU-wide Forum Enforcement Project (REF-5) to focus the quality of safety information on hazardous chemicals in the supply chain. Inspectors looked at extended safety data sheets (eSDSs) and Exposure Scenarios and checked to see if workers who are handling hazardous chemicals, especially those of high concern, are receiving the right information.
ECHA REF-5 Final Report
On December 13, 2018, ECHA released the final report which concluded that companies do have mechanisms to communicate risk management measures down the supply chain, however the quality is poor and needs to be improved.
Inspectors conducted 898 inspections for 1,435 substances and found that 18% of the companies had at least one non-compliance of REACH provisions covered by the project. This equated to 296 instances of non-compliance and 665 measures were enforced.
What recommendations were made?
Recommendations were made to industry to improve the quality of SDSs, risk management measures, Exposure Scenarios/Extended SDSs, and communications.
Recommendations to the European Commission include prioritizing the REACH Review actions on the quality of SDSs and standardise format and content requirements for exposure scenarios.
For the ECHA Secretariat, recommendations included working towards providing guidance information and examples, validating chemical safety reports content, follow up on the quality of chemical safety reports, and promoting updates of dossiers and chemical safety reports.
Lastly, for the national authorities, the recommendations include implementing work programs that support accomplishing the REF-5 goals, encourage compliance with the legal requirement to supply exposure scenarios, and encouraging the quality of exposure scenarios/extended SDSs.
The Forum recommends that the project be repeated in a few years, with the objective of looking at the quality of the information of the extended SDS. In addition, the Forum recommends further collaboration should be pursued between the Member States’ national authorities with responsibilities in labor, environment, and consumer.
Future REF projects should include other authorities.
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Chemical Management, Hazardous Chemicals, Extended Safety Data Sheets, Exposure Scenarios, Risk Management Measures, ECHA, REF-5