October 13, 2020
On January 1st 2021, the United Kingdom (UK) will officially leave the European Union (EU) and adopt its own set of chemical legislation including the regulation that governs SDS requirements. Since negotiations with the EU are still being undertaken with regards to the exact nature of the Brexit, there is no specific guidance as to the degree of alignment that will or will not remain between the EU and the UK in terms of SDS requirements. Complicating this situation is that significant EU REACH Annex II updates impacting SDSs will also come into force on January 1, 2021.
Without specific guidance or updates to UK’s SDS regulations, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) believes emergency measures will take in all EU laws that are in force on December 31, 2020 and implement them into new UK laws. This unfortunate timing may result in the UK implementing laws that do not include EU REACH Annex II updates.
Companies doing business in the UK who want to comply are left wondering what is the best path forward. While awaiting further information from the UK component authority (HSE), there are practical considerations informing businesses on how to proceed during these unprecedented times.
The HSE, with regards to the SDS, has stated that regardless of the negotiations, a form of GHS will be implemented into UK law. Even though on January 1 of the new year EU SDSs are unlikely to be compliant with regards to the UK law, guessing as to what would constitute compliance would probably pose a larger risk. It is reassuring that the HSE has also stated that it will apply common sense with allowing industry to update in accordance with the new regulation. Historically, the HSE has had cooperative relationships with industry with a preference for getting the SDS “right” instead of levelling punitive fines on businesses for initial non-compliances.
As of October 1st, and with the above-presented information, UL plans on continuing to closely monitor the evolving situation and implement a UK compliant solution as soon as possible. In the meantime, UL authored documents for distribution and use in the UK will continue to comply with EU requirements including REACH Annex II updates after January 1, 2021 until either the HSE provides more specific guidance refuting the validity of these SDSs or a new law is promulgated.
Recommended Action Items
Stay alert to future HSE published guidance and/or regulations
UK Defra published guidance on September 1, 2020: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-comply-with-reach-chemical-regulations
ECHA guidance on Brexit: https://echa.europa.eu/uk-withdrawal-from-the-eu?utm_source=echa-weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly&utm_content=20200916&_cldee=ZGFybGVuZS5zdXNhLWFuZGVyc29uQHVsLmNvbQ%3d%3d&recipientid=lead-601dcf8b2ee4e8118106005056952b31-f744001da71f4a1f87d28c4dce0e106e&esid=7f10bda2-f8f7-ea11-8123-005056b9310e