Manufacturing body the EEF is urging manufacturers to get a better handle on the requirements of the European REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) Regulations or face the prospect of unlimited fines – or even a prison sentence – through a failure to comply.
The REACH Regulations cover the restriction or banning of certain hazardous substances, and a recent survey by the EEF found a widespread attitude of ignorance and complacency around them.
Awareness of the implications for manufacturers, especially among smaller companies, was worryingly low, it said.
The EEF added that even where firms were aware of REACH, it was often assumed the Regulations were limited to chemical companies.
However, the Regulations are gradually restricting the use of hazardous chemicals in many different areas or implementing widespread bans, including substances that have been commonly used in manufacturing processes for many years under controlled conditions, said the EEF. This potentially had major implications for all companies, from requirements for worker safety, to controls on how substances are used, through to the possible need to modify processes and substitute other materials.
There were also ramifications for those companies in the supply chain that needed to be in a position to advise their customers if such substances were present in the products they sold.
Firms will be up against a rolling deadline of registration for the chemicals listed in the legislation to continue to be allowed to be used within the European Union.
The next major deadline for registration is June this year, a cut-off point that could see some of the substances being withdrawn from the market, said the EEF.
It has called on the Government to do more to raise awareness of the implications of the REACH Regulations for businesses, including more user-friendly guidance.
Further advice on the issue can be obtained on the EEF’s website.