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Chemical safety for workers targeted by next EU enforcement project

Enforcement authorities in the EU will inspect how safety information on hazardous chemicals is compiled, communicated in the supply chain and followed at workplaces.

The safety of workers will be inspected by 28 EU and EEA Member States. The key element of the project will be to investigate the quality of the safety data sheets that contain guidelines on the safe use of hazardous substances.

Inspectors will check if the extended safety data sheets match the information established by the chemical safety reports (CSRs) that substance manufacturers prepare. They will also go through the exposure scenarios attached to the safety data sheets. An exposure scenario describes the amount and character of exposure to its hazards when a substance is manufactured or used for its destined purposes. It also advises how the exposure of humans and release to the environment can be controlled.

One of the objectives of this enforcement project is to ensure that workers handling hazardous chemicals, especially those dealing with substances of very high concern, receive sufficient and correct safety information. The project will also map how effectively extended safety data sheets are passed on and communicated all the way through the supply chain, i.e. from manufacturers of chemicals to the users.

Inspectors will furthermore check whether workers actually respect the safety information at their workplaces. Inspectors from national enforcement authorities will collaborate with labour inspectors to assess if the recommended operational conditions and risk management measures are fulfilled.

The REF-5 project was adopted by ECHA’s Forum for Exchange of Information on Enforcement at the end of 2015. The first inspections will take place in January 2017, and the activity will continue throughout the year. A report on the results of the inspections will be available in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The project will be the first joint EU enforcement project that aims to improve communication, through safety data sheets, throughout the supply chain.