Sixty-seven percent of companies inspected do not comply with European Union rules on chemicals, according to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
ECHA’s second enforcement project focused on checking the compliance of downstream users — particularly formulators of mixtures — with the essential requirements of REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) and CLP (Classification, Labeling and Packaging) regulations. ECHA inspected 1,181 companies and found almost two-thirds did not comply with one or more provisions of the rules.
Non-compliance was most commonly related to companies’ violating pre-registration (REACH, 8 percent) and notification (CLP, 15 percent) requirements, as well as failing to keep information (20 percent) and having deficient risk management measures (12 percent).
Only 3 percent of companies failed to have safety data sheets (SDS) on site, ECHA says. However, 52 percent of the inspected SDS showed deficiencies (see Figure 3). Despite the high rate of defective SDS, ECHA inspectors noticed an improvement in the formats used and availability of SDS compared to earlier inspections.
The findings also showed that 93 percent of the workers could have access to relevant information from SDS. However, practice shows that the actual rate was lower at 79 percent.
EU enforcement authorities carried out the inspection between May 2011 and March 2012 in 29 member states, covering 6,900 substances, 4,500 mixtures and 4,500 SDS. The majority of the inspected companies were small or medium-sized. More than half of the inspected companies were not only active as downstream users but also in additional roles, such as manufacturers, importers, distributors and only representatives.
ECHA says the enforcement project shows that the quality of the SDS and compliance with the notification and registration obligations need to improve. In its report it recommends industry focus on increasing companies’ knowledge about REACH and CLP. It says the ECHA website provides a useful source of information and companies can also consult their national helpdesks or other authorities to determine if they have any obligations under the chemical rules.
The report also says the Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES) could be a useful tool to help companies comply with the regulations and encourages additional cooperation between authorities enforcing REACH and CLP in EU member states.
Twenty percent of companies surveyed earlier this year said REACH regulations say do not apply to them while 30 percent said the chemical rules aren’t important to their business, according to a survey by EEF, a UK manufacturers’ trade group.