Violations of European chemicals regulation REACH will be subject to more severe penalties

Paul Boughton

The European chemicals regulation, REACH, establishes various responsibilities to be fulfilled by the manufacturers, importers and downstream users of chemicals.

Under REACH, almost all chemicals must be registered in three phases. The second registration period will end in May 2013. By the expiry of the third registration period smaller quantities of substances must have been registered. This requirement particularly concerns small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Almost parallel to the start of the new registration phase, the Regulation governing the new penalties and fines in case of violations of EC or EU regulations in the field of chemical safety has come into force.

"Based on this regulation, violations can be severely punished", says Dr Dieter Reiml, REACH expert at TÜV SÜD Industrie Service GmbH. The worst-case scenario provides for prison sentences of up to two years and fines of up to EUR50,000.

According to Dr Reiml, Articles 5 and 6 of the regulation on violations are particularly important for REACH. While paragraph 5 addresses severe violations of the restriction of substances, Article 6 deals with a large number of individual regulations primarily concerning the quality of registrations, the responsibilities following registration, safety data sheets, other communication along the supply chain and substances of very high concern (SVHC) in products.

In addition, paragraph 11 refers to the CLP regulation and pursues violations of the classification, identification and packaging of hazardous substances and mixtures, incorrect methods of substance testing and violation of the duty of notification of the ECHA.

"In view of the complexity of the European chemicals legislation and the REACH regulation in particular, violation of individual regulations is virtually a given", explains Dr Reiml. This particularly applies to SMEs that only process smaller amounts, and are unlikely to be able to build up and maintain the know-how and the capacities for handling the European chemicals regulation.

Given this, TÜV SÜD currently supports small and medium-sized companies through its SME initiative and a special REACH service. The experts of the international service provider take care of on-time, cost-effective and successful registration of chemical substances and other obligations set forth under REACH, thus providing their clients with the required compliance.

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