The Government have always supported fully the aim of the REACH regulation to improve protection of human health and the environment and to maintain the competitiveness and innovation of the EU chemicals industry. We sought to consult widely with the UK chemicals industry and other sectors that will be affected by REACH to ensure that their views were taken into account and that they were kept informed of developments throughout the legislative process.
In October 2006, I announced that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) would act as the UK competent authority for the implementation of REACH. The HSE has set up a helpdesk to provide assistance and advice to all industrial sectors on the requirements of REACH. Various industry bodies are also taking active steps to make sure that companies understand about REACH and have access to advice.
The Government are confident that there is a widespread understanding of REACH and its requirements among the major industrial players. However, we are less confident that there is such an understanding among the significant numbers of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and among companies not in the chemical industry but which nevertheless use chemicals. With the formal adoption of the REACH regulation in December 2006, we are developing a communications strategy to ensure that SMEs in particular are fully aware of REACH requirements as they progressively come into effect from 1 June 2007.