The Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (Reach) legislation came into force this month.
Reach requires a review of health, safety and environmental impact of chemicals in Europe and affects anyone producing, importing or using chemicals. Within 18 months all companies must make sure chemical products are identified and recorded with a central European Chemicals Agency in Helsinki.
Occupational health practitioners will have to be involved as substances are registered and they review their systems for health surveillance, hygiene, personal protective equipment and health promotion.
The regulations are likely to give OH responsibility not only for their organisation’s employers but also the public in general who handle, store or dispose of substances used by the organisation.