The Dutch Health and Safety Inspectorate, Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority and Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment have recently announced that they will start monitoring the compliance of companies with the REACH legislation.

Introduction

REACH is aimed at the protection of human health and the environment from the risks of chemicals, whilst enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. These aims can only be achieved by efficient and effective maintenance of a high level of safety and quality. Efficient by making sure that companies only deal with one inspection authority and effective by focusing the maintenance on situations that create the highest risks for human health and the environment.

Inspections

This year's inspections are aimed at pushing back non-compliance due to the unfamiliarity with REACH. This will be done by increasing the companies' knowledge in the following areas:

  • Companies must know which regulations they must comply with;
  • Companies must understand how they can meet their obligations; and
  • Companies must understand what the consequences of non-compliance with these regulations are.

Inspection authorities

The maintenance of the REACH legislation will be in the hands of:

  • the Health and Safety Inspectorate ("HSI");
  • the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority ("FCPSA"); and
  • the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment ("HSPE").

Each of these inspection authorities is responsible for the supervision of regulations related to specific target groups:

  • HSI: regulations on the protection of the health and safety of employees;
  • FCPSA: regulations aimed at the protection of the health and safety of the consumer when using consumer products; and
  • HSPE: regulations on the protection of human health and the environment in the industrial use of substances and products.

To ensure the efficient functioning of the maintenance, each inspection authority will be primarily responsible for the supervision of certain target groups in the chain. Every target group will thus have one inspection authority as its first contact point:

  • HIS: for professional and industrial users;
  • FCPSA: for manufacturers, importers and traders of preparations and articles for consumers; and
  • HSPE: for manufacturers, importers and traders of substances, preparations and articles for professional use.

Who will be inspected?

The companies to be inspected are classified in the following 5 categories:

  • Manufacturers of substances, and organised importers of substances, preparations (mixtures of chemical substances) and articles such as manufacturers of heavy chemicals and solvents;
  • Distributors (traders), for example traders in dyes;
  • Manufacturers of preparations and articles, for example the paint industry;
  • Non-organised importers of substances, preparations and articles of, amongst others, raw materials for the chemical industry; and
  • Professional users, for example painting businesses, shipbuilding yards, etc.

When & how will the inspections take place?

Manufacturers of substances and organised importers of substances, preparations and articles will be inspected by the FCPSA and the HSPE in the second quarter of 2008. The focus of the FCPSA and the HSPE will be on:

  • the observance of the Decree on Notification (until 1 June 2008);
  • the control of the relevant REACH regulation for non-phase-in substances (after 1 June 2008);
  • the checking of the correct labeling;
  • the control of the passing on of information in the chain (including safety data sheets);
  • the collecting of information from customers (chain information); and
  • the advice on registration and pre-registration obligations.

The FCPSA and the HSPE will inspect the distributors (traders) in the second and third quarter of 2008 and will focus on:

  • the control of the passing on of information in the chain (including safety data sheets);
  • the checking of the correct labeling; and
  • the collection of information from customers (chain information), especially from non-organised importers.

Manufacturers of preparations and articles will be inspected in the third and fourth quarter of 2008 by the FCPSA and the HSPE who will focus on:

  • the control of the passing on of information in the chain (including safety data sheets);
  • the checking of the correct labeling; and
  • the collecting of information from mainly non-organised importers.

Non-organised importers of substances, preparations and articles will be subject to inspections by the FCPSA and the HSPE in the fourth quarter of 2008. The latter will focus on:

  • the control of the relevant REACH regulation for non-phase-in substances (after 1 June 2008);
  • the checking of the correct labeling;
  • the control of the passing on of information in the chain (including safety data sheets);
  • the collecting of information from customers (chain information); and
  • the advice on registration and pre-registration obligations.

Lastly, the professional users will be inspected throughout the whole year by the HIS which focuses on:

  • the delivery and use of safety data sheets; and
  • the collecting of information from suppliers of chemical products.

Conclusion

Now that the Dutch inspection authorities have started monitoring the compliance of companies dealing with chemicals with the REACH legislation, the existence of REACH and the consequences it entails can no longer be ignored.

To prevent these companies from being fined by the Dutch inspection authorities because of non-compliance with the REACH legislation, it is important that they can prove to the relevant inspection authority that they have indeed commenced with the implementation of the relevant REACH legislation.