EU REACH: Managing Risk, Avoiding Enforcement

EU REACH: Managing Risk, Avoiding Enforcement

The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation (EC 1907/2006) has grown exponentially in scope and impact over the last decade. This has placed increased demand on compliance departments to keep pace with an ever-expanding list of restricted substances. In practice, keeping pace requires the implementation of a strong due diligence program to avoid costly enforcement action.

Fortunately, the Guidance on Requirements for Substances in Articles, released in early 2017 by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), gave companies a clear picture of what REACH enforcement might look like in the coming year, meaning companies must take notice and meet those expectations, or face major setbacks.

Keep pace with changes to the REACH Regulation. Download The REACH Handbook: Your Guide to SVHC Compliance to learn how.

Key Setbacks for REACH Non-Compliance

  • Supply Chain Interruption
    • Companies and suppliers that do not meet REACH requirements could subsequently fail to meet the demands of their purchasing orders. This has a direct and immediate impact on revenue, and a longer-term impact on customer satisfaction and confidence.
    • The same is true in cases where companies do comply with REACH, meaning they may cease production of a certain material or product. There is also risk that any substitute product or material selected may not necessarily meet the same quality and performance indicators.
  • Direct Enforcement Action
    • REACH enforcement actions against non-compliant companies are laborious at best, and prohibitively disruptive at worst, even to the extent of forcing business closure or the cessation of production. Enforcement actions can involve financial penalties and the painful implementation of new auditing procedures dictated by authorities (for example, forced implementation of a detailed compliance plan, the hire of a dedicated compliance officer, ongoing inspections and cumbersome audits on a periodic basis).
  • Compromised Worker Health and Safety
    • In particularly egregious cases where, for example, SVHCs pose a significant threat to the safety of workers through inhalation and dermal contact, those at the head of non-compliant companies may face criminal prosecution, including the risk of jail time and associated fines. These same risks can also apply to the import, sale or use of SVHCs that endanger the environment.
  • Customs Stoppages
    • Products containing SVHCs on the Authorisation List, without having prior authorization, can be stopped at customs in the European Economic Area and will not be saleable in the European market. This would result in serious setbacks in terms of forfeited sales revenue, inability to fulfill key orders, lengthy return processing times, and significant operational disruption.

Achieving Excellence in REACH Compliance

Because REACH is in a constant state of evolution, achieving compliance is no small undertaking, and success requires an incredibly robust due diligence program. In this high-pressure environment, compliant companies know where their products come from and which substances are present in each article purchased from their suppliers. In contrast, companies that fail to take into account the extent of REACH-related risks will struggle to maintain continued market access in the face of this evolving regulation.

With firm guidance from the ECHA on REACH expectations, the onus falls on individual companies to meet regulatory requirements using a comprehensive compliance program. These kinds of programs are backed by regulatory foresight, effective supply chain communication and, above all, strong data. Such compliance programs also integrate supply chain education, access to internal and external subject matter experts, and strong data collection mechanisms.

This is where the Assent Compliance Platform excels. Not only is it capable of managing your REACH, RoHS, Conflict Mineral and other regulatory requirements, the Platform integrates the in-depth knowledge of subject matter experts and an online training portal (Assent University) to provide your compliance team with the tools they need for success.

Learn more about the Assent Compliance Platform by visiting our website, or explore the REACH-specific Module.

Looking for more information on REACH compliance? Download the free REACH eBook here, or contact us at