The REACH regulations are now upon Europe and in order to help explain to EIGA members the full meaning and impact of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals directive, EIGA held a one day workshop in Brussels on 26th June 2008, titled ‘REACH-GHS – Are We Ready?’.

Around 100 attendees were present at the event from not only Europe, but North America too, reflecting the global interest in this European legislation.

Mark Begg, Chairman of the Workshop Organising Committee and Vice-Chairman of EIGA’s Industrial Gases Council, opened the workshop with an overview of the legislation, stating that it was some of the most complex and deepest legislation affecting industry - with over 650 pages of legislation and 2000 pages of guidance.

There are 30,000 substances captured by REACH and not only was this workshop topic a question of being ready, but confirmation that we are indeed on a journey.

Pierre Wolfs of EIGA opened the presentations with an overview of REACH, covering the objectives of the legislation, an outline of the requirements and the timeline for registration and other activities. An important point raised noted that the legislation was not entirely new and that the REACH directive replaces already existing community legislation. REACH will provide one system, but the ‘burden of proof’ will move to industry.

The good news for EIGA member companies is that there are exemptions to register for a number of gases including hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and rare gases.

In progress
Dr Erwin Annys of CEFIC followed up with a presentation of what is still in progress and explained the status of the REACH Implementation Process (RIP). As many members are more widely impacted by the legislation, CEFIC has a dedicated team working on the subject.

Later in the workshop, Jack Wille, also from CEFIC, explained the IT support systems being put in place by the European Chemicals Agency to support the directive. This included detailing SIEF, the Substance Information Exchange Forum that will allow registrants to know if others are registering identical material.

The final external speaker to present was Serge Lallemant of LISAM Systems who explained the software that EIGA has developed with LISAM to be able to generate Safety Data Sheets.

Eight EIGA Member company speakers presented the view from ‘the sharp end’ of the implementation process, these papers covered pre-registration, data gathering, communication in the Supply Chain, the Chemical Safety Report, and the interactivity between REACH and GHS and the business impact.