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July 1, 2009

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HSA announces REACH enforcement drive

The Irish Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is set to launch its first

focused inspections over the next few months under REACH — the

Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of CHemicals.

Beginning in July, specialist chemical enforcement inspectors will be checking pre-registrations, registrations, and  provisions for safety data sheets in organisations that have pre-registered their use of chemicals.

Businesses were required to pre-register substances with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki by December 2008, or face being banned from importing or manufacturing chemicals. Certain substances are still eligible for late pre-registration.

According to the HSA, ECHA has received around 92,000 pre-registration notifications from 300 companies based in Ireland, 40 per cent of which are categorised as small or micro enterprises.

The project forms part of the ongoing work of the EU Forum on REACH enforcement, which aims to coordinate enforcement across the EU.

Blaithin Tarpey, a senior inspector from the HSA, said that premises selected for inspection would be notified in advance, “to ensure that appropriate personnel and relevant documents will be available for the inspector”. 

In the UK, the HSE is also planning to launch its own inspection programme for REACH in the next few months but admitted that there had been some delay owing to a “substantial amount of reactive work received by the UK REACH Competent Authority”.

A spokesperson for the Executive told SHP: “Our inspection programme will involve a substance-specific, campaign-based approach, which will involve much pre-campaign intelligence gathering to identify supply-chain activity surrounding the substances concerned. We will be able to compare this intelligence to records of registration and pre-registration in order to target and approach those companies that appear to be in breach of the core requirements in REACH to register substances.”

The spokesperson said the HSE would also assess compliance with other provisions of REACH, e.g, the provision and compilation of safety data sheets, and plans to run a pre-registration enforcement project later in the year, focused on the identification of substances ineligible for pre-registration.

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