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The Agency for UK REACH Work Programme 2021/22

This workplan details the operational activities the HSE (supported by the Environment Agency), will undertake in 2021/22. It aims to provide a comprehensive picture of all activities conducted under UK REACH. Within each subject theme, the workplan also provides early perspectives on the nature or scale of work anticipated in future years.

It sets out a number of objectives that have been identified as being particularly important for the effective delivery of UK REACH.

UK Registration, Evaluation Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (UK REACH) is part of the UK’s independent chemicals regulatory framework, enabling decision-making that best reflects the UK’s needs, while maintaining some of the highest standards in the world. UK REACH regulates the use of chemicals to protect human health and the environment. Until the end of the Transition Period (31 December 2020), the European Union-wide REACH regulation (EU REACH) applied in the UK. At the point that the Transition Period ended, EU REACH became retained law as “UK REACH” in the form it applied as at 31 December 2020, subject to any changes that were necessary to enable the legislation to continue to operate in Great Britain.

UK REACH retains the same basic principles as EU REACH namely:

  • To ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment, including the promotion of alternative methods for assessment of hazards of substances, as well as the free circulation of substances, while enhancing competitiveness and innovation.

  • Lay down provisions on substances and mixtures applying to the manufacture, placing on the market or use of substances on their own, in mixtures or in articles.

  • Is based on the principle that manufacturers, importers and downstream users must ensure that the substances that they manufacture, place on the market and use do not adversely affect human health or the environment. It is underpinned by the precautionary principle.

UK REACH regulates the access of chemicals to the GB market. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU REACH continues to regulate substances for the Northern Ireland market.

HSE is the Agency for UK REACH and has responsibility for the majority of the regulatory functions under UK REACH, including the drafting of this work programme.

This work programme sets out the activity that HSE, supported by the Environment Agency, and other relevant agencies, will carry out in Financial Year 2021/22 and beyond to operate UK REACH. The critical focus is to ensure the long-term operation of UK REACH, as a GB-only regulation – operating independently of EU REACH.

The HSE’s role as the Agency for UK REACH represents a significant increase in responsibility from its previous role as UK Competent Authority under EU REACH. HSE has invested significant resource into building capacity to enable the new role to be discharged effectively – and will continue to do so in 2021/22 and beyond. In preparation the HSE says it has:

  • Recruited new staff, such that there are around 3 times as many scientists available for REACH work in HSE’s Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) compared to last year.

  • Implemented training and capacity building within this year and developed plans for the future years, focussed on developing staff into the key roles required in UK REACH.

  • Focussed on support to business via the helpdesk, development of guidance and working with Defra and other key stakeholders to run events and give presentations to help dutyholders.

  • Supported the ongoing development of an IT system (‘Comply with UK REACH’) to support registration Developed systems and approaches to deliver evaluation, authorisation and restriction.

  • Developed a statement on how to obtain and use independent scientific knowledge and advice (ISA) for UK REACH (which can be found in Annex III).

The work programme document is available here.

HSE June 2021

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