4 Chemical/EHS legislation updates you need to know about

4 Chemical/EHS legislation updates you need to know about

Published January 11, 2023

4 minute read

2023 is already shaping up to be a busy year for chemical and EHS legislation in Europe. Several initiatives stemming from the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027 are now in effect. A planned revision of REACH (falling under the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability) is also projected to take place later this year.

To take some of the pain out of trawling through reams of legislation, proposals and documentation, we have created a list of some of the most significant updates to keep an eye on this year:

1) Amendment to EU Directive 2004/37/EC  - Carcinogens, mutagens or reprotoxic substances at work.

As of March 2022, the carcinogens and mutagens directive has been updated and renamed to include requirements for reprotoxic substances and products. This amendment was titled Directive 2022/431/EU.

Reprotoxic substances can cause adverse effects on sexual function and fertility in adult males and females, as well as on the development of their offspring. According to a worst-case-scenario estimate, reprotoxic substances may be the cause of up to 1,274 new cases of reproductive ill health each year.

Directive 2022/431/EU must be implemented at a national level by the 5th of April 2024.

What does this mean for you?

The inclusion of reprotoxic substances in the directive means that like carcinogenic and mutagenic substances, you will be required to register any instances of exposure.

The Directive also states that certain information including exposures, quantities, activities and number of effected employees should be made available to the competent authorities. Employees should also be made aware if an abnormal exposure has occurred.

To keep on top of any instances of exposure, having a tool with which you can register any exposure event – whether planned or unplanned – can go a long way to helping you maintain compliance with this legislation. 

2) Proposal to amend Asbestos at Work Directive 2009/148/EC

Falling under the 2021-2027 framework, a legislative proposal on the protection of workers from the risks related to asbestos exposure at work was put forward in September 2022.

This proposal would see a reduction in the exposure limit of asbestos at work to 10 times lower than the current value, in line with latest scientific developments.

In the EU as much as 78% of ‘recognised occupational cancers’ are related to asbestos, with between 4.1 to 7.3 million workers currently exposed.

While all forms of asbestos were banned in the EU in 2005, over 220 million buildings predate the ban. This represents a significant risk for workers, particularly in the construction, maintenance, and waste industries.

What does this mean for you?

The proposed amendment is to be discussed by the European parliament and member states and if approved, must be implemented on a national level within 2 years.

Implementing a system that can register instances of asbestos exposure and keep an accurate record of these events can help you to keep up with these new proposed regulations.

3) Developments in EU’s chemicals strategy for sustainability towards a toxic-free environment

2022 was a very active year for the EU’s chemical strategy, which aims to ban and phase-out hazardous substances. One of the most significant developments occurred in December when the Commission:

  • Proposed a revised Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals (CLP). This proposed revision aims to clarify rules on labelling and for chemicals sold online.

  • Introduced new hazard classes for classifying chemicals in the CLP regulation.

These new hazard classes are:

  • endocrine disruptors (ED) for human health or the environment,
  • persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT); very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB),
  • persistent, mobile and toxic (PMT); very persistent and very mobile (vPvB).

Endocrine disruptors can pose a significant threat to humans, leading to disorders including (but not limited to): birth defects, cancer and reproductive disorders.

The delegated regulation also notes that PBT or vPvB substances don’t break down easily in the environment, but instead accumulate - a process which is difficult to reverse.

What does this mean for you?

The proposal to amend the CLP regulation is currently awaiting approval from the European Parliament and Council, while the new hazard classes are expected to come into force in early 2023.

The commission notes that new rules in the CLP revision may require some investment on the part of businesses in order to remain compliant.

Tools such as the ALMEGO SDS Authoring software can help you to keep up with these changes. Features such as the CLP calculator, P-phrase algorithm, and a smart workflow can help to drastically improve efficiency.

4) Planned revision of the REACH Regulation

The regulation for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) had been expected to undergo a revision in 2022, but this has now been pushed to the latter half of 2023.

REACH aims to phase out hazardous substances from the EU, with an onus on the chemical industry to provide data on the chemicals they manufacture. 

What  does this mean for you?

At this point in the process, it is a good idea to keep an eye on news of this revision as the year goes on. EcoOnline will be reporting on any developments as they happen, so be sure to check back!

In Conclusion


Did you know that in October 2022, the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) reported that the volumes of chemicals subject to authorisation dropped by 45 % during 2010-2021?

So, what can we infer from this decline? It indicates that when substances of very high concern (SVHCs) are subject to REACH authorisation, it encourages the replacement of these substances with suitable (and less harmful) alternatives. ECHA suggests that it is “plausible that the authorisation requirement of these substances has lowered their consumption in the EU”.

Legislation is having a significant effect on chemical usage across the EU. Whether it comes in the form of needing to register reprotoxic exposures, new labelling requirements within the CLP regulation, or the introduction of new hazard classes, there is a critical need for businesses to adapt.

This increasing level of regulation is necessary to safeguard the health of workers, and at EcoOnline we understand that meeting these requirements presents a challenge to many businesses. Our software can assist you to record chemical exposure, substitute dangerous substances and create CLP and REACH compliant safety data sheets.

If you want to learn more about how the system can help you remain compliant, get in touch.


Learn more about our chemical management software

Author Laura Fitzgerald

Laura Fitzgerald is a Content Marketing Manager with EcoOnline. She has been writing about health and safety topics since 2017, with a focus on the areas of improving employee safety engagement and EHS legislation.

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