Occupational safety legislation and REACH

Occupational safety legislation and REACH -alasivu

The European REACH Regulation governs chemical substances on their own, in preparations and in articles. The Regulation therefore applies to, for example, paints, cleaning products, adhesives, industrial chemicals, textiles, furniture and electrical equipment. It also lays down risk management measures associated with chemical substances. The objective of the Regulation is to disseminate information about the implications of chemical substances on health and safety as well as the safe handling of chemicals.

The REACH Regulation is directly linked to the European CLP Regulation (for “Classification, Labelling and Packaging”), which sets out risk and safety statements and hazard symbols that are important sources of information from the perspective of occupational safety and health.

REACH legislation obligates employers to protect their staff especially in respect of exposure scenarios, restrictions and authorisations. These lay down safety requirements relating to professional use of substances, such as risk management techniques that employers must adopt in order to protect their staff.

The REACH Regulation also promotes replacing substances of very high concern (SVHC) by less dangerous substances, which is also a requirement under occupational safety and health laws. The use of SVHCs requires authorisation pursuant to the REACH Regulation. The aim of the authorisation requirement is to ensure that the risks from substances of very high concern are properly controlled and that these substances are progressively replaced by suitable alternative substances or technologies.

Any restrictions arising from the REACH Regulation must be stated under heading 15 in the material safety data sheet. Any markings that need to be on the label due to the restrictions must be shown under heading 2.2 in the material safety data sheet.

The REACH Regulation and occupational safety legislation complement each other. However, it is important to remember when assessing the chemical agents present in a workplace that the exposure agents that are the most significant from the perspective of work-related diseases, such as chemical impurities from processes (thermal decomposition products, vapour and fumes) and many kinds of dust, are not governed by the REACH Regulation. In addition, the majority of chemicals used in workplaces are mixtures, and many processes involve using several different substances or mixtures simultaneously or in succession. The REACH Regulation is unable to factor in the total exposure resulting from multiple substances.