Distributors in the cleaning and hygiene sector gathered at a recent event held in the West Midlands to get answers to their questions on the implications of the REACH regulation.
The regulation places responsibilities on the users of cleaning chemicals and increases the burden of data management on the supply chain.
To help businesses in the sector adapt and respond, the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) and the British Association for Chemical Specialities (BACS) hosted the “REACH for the cleaning supply chain” conference.
BACS brought together a team of expert speakers able to outline the issues and answer questions from the delegates. The thorny issues of dealing with private branding and contract packing were addressed, with Robin Foster of the Health & Safety Executive (head of policy, International Chemicals Unit, HSE) explaining that as an ex-inspector his first port of call would always be to the company on the product label.
Another complex area in the industry is that the products which are traded are not necessarily those that are used. For instance, concentrates can be dosed into bottles fitted with spray heads. The REACH specific information, which may not be on the safety data sheet, helps the users deal with their COSHH obligations for these products.
The issue of using retail products was also discussed. The calculations underpinning the risk assessments for these products do not necessarily consider working with the products all day long.
Peter Woodhead, technical director of Selden Research, explained how REACH, COSHH and CLP fit together and how REACH moves the burden of risk assessment up the supply chain but gives the end users the responsibility to implement the controls recommended by their suppliers.
Martina Williams, who has 25 years’ experience working for multinational chemical companies and is one of BACS’ regulatory affairs consultants, outlined distributors’ responsibilities and the deadlines to be met.
Simon Bradshaw, director of Lisam Systems and a specialist in the provision of chemical labelling solutions, provided a presentation on safety data sheets.
Randi Hanstveit, who has focused on REACH and CLP since joining Sealed Air in 2009 discussed the critical information not in the safety data sheet.
And, Robin Foster gave a thought provoking talk on the future of managing chemicals and the action being taken in Britain and at EU level to substantially reduce work related cancers which currently vastly outnumber accidental work related fatalities.
Speaking after the conference, Dave Bruce of DJB Supplies said:
“The conference has been valuable. The common sense approach of the speakers provides a good guide through the complexities of REACH and laid out the implications of the subtle shift in emphasis of responsibility. For example, as a distributor I have to provide information to end users and I now have answers to my questions on communication, a topic it’s been difficult to get any clear guidance on.”
Jeff Snee, Arco product and procurement manager and member of the CHSA Council added:
“The message I have taken away is that there is work to do to be absolutely certain we are fully complaint. I’ve now got the information I need to provide the right information to end users and future proof the business.”