Key Chemical Manufacturing Regulations in the UK

8th July 2020

Blog

Working in industries and businesses involving chemicals isn’t simple. In this type of industry, there are many pre-existing chemical manufacturing regulations to be mindful of.

For one, the hazards involved mean that strict safety precautions must be met. This is why the UK government, along with international agencies, have created legal mandates to guide the industries that use chemicals and their workers.

What are chemical health and safety regulations?

In the UK, there are health and safety laws approved by the Parliament that companies and their employees must follow. Chemical manufacturers are amongst those guided by such regulations spearheaded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Workers in chemical plants must follow chemical manufacturing regulations

Workers in chemical plants must follow chemical manufacturing regulations

The particular legislation that usually covers chemical management is the Health and Safety at Work Act. Aside from providing suggested guidelines, the HSE also specifies the mandatory steps that must be adhered to. Some regulations are required, not optional.

Aside from the Health and Safety at Work Act, other important regulatory measures are in place to guide industries across public and private platforms, and their personnel well-trained to properly handle hazardous chemicals.

These are also some other pieces of regulation directly applicable to chemical-related fields or workplaces:

  1. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999: this is generally for risk assessments, training of employees, and information drive.
  2. Workplace Regulations 1992; and Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992: both of these laws cover the facilities and equipment.
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992: this is for the appropriate safe clothing and uniforms of workers provided by their employers.
  4. Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH); and Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002: these oblige the companies to make risk assessments on hazardous chemicals and set precautionary measures.

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Other laws such as the Construction Regulations 1994, Gas Safety Regulations 1994, and Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 are all necessary for the “safety first policy” in chemical-related industries.

What are the requirements for chemical labels?

A relatively new law (the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2002) covers the classification, labelling, and packaging of hazardous chemicals through the use of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

Labelling chemicals correctly is part of COSHH regulations

Labelling chemicals correctly is part of COSHH regulations

This law wasn’t introduced just for the protection of workers, but also for the protection of the general public. That’s why there are rules particularly indicated in Chemicals Regulations 2002, along with CHIP:  Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) and CLP: Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP Regulation), adopting the Globally Harmonised System (GHS), which defines how chemical labels are managed in the EU.

The summative points of this law include:

  1. On outer packaging, there must be contact information like complete name, address, and phone number of the supplier of the substance
  2. Legally and internationally recognized names of the substance
  3. Any dangerous indications with corresponding symbols
  4. Risk and safety phrases, set out in full
  5. EC number and label
  6. Toxic classifications: mutagenic, carcinogenic, and reproductive toxicity number except for artist paint, petrol, sealed fuel, and other similar oil-based products
  7. “Restricted to professional users” labelling phrase
  8. “For use in industrial installations only” phrase for anything which includes a weight concentration of at least 0.1% for classified permissible dangerous substances in other laws
  9. Include non-toxic, non-harmful, non-polluting, or ecological as applicable
  10. Include harmful, extremely flammable, highly flammable, flammable, irritant, oxidising, “N”, etc. warnings whenever applicable. This isn’t necessary for specified substances containing the aforementioned categories when they’re only 125 ml or less, provided they are not sold to general public
  11. Aerosol-based labeling has more regulatory requirements indicated in other sections and under separate laws

What legislation covers the use, storage and handling of chemicals?

Labeling chemicals is one thing; but use, storage, and handling is another. Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) is the main law that industries must comply with. In order not to go through the exhaustive legal texts of this law, chemical manufacturing companies must provide Safety Data Sheets (SDS), which cover everything about the proper use, storage, and handling of chemicals. 

Proper disposal of chemical waste is also included on MSDSs because of its effect on the environment.

What are the environmental regulations for manufacturers?

Since chemical-related industries deal with hazardous substances that may affect public health and the environment, certain environmental regulations are in place so that manufacturers know how to comply with basic standards. The environmental impact isn’t limited to pollution levels and can be exacerbated by manufacturing industries working on commodity chemicals (organic and inorganic), pharmaceutical products, industrial gases, paints, inks, detergents, and other commercialized chemical products.

Because of that, among the requisites necessary here are licencing, authorisation, permits, exemption, (radioactive/waste) certificates, discharge consents, registration, pre-notifications, etc. The kind of possible requisites such as pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit or waste management licence, depends on the nature of a business’ operations.

What does health and safety in a manufacturing environment mean?

Given how crucial it is to follow protocols in the manufacturing industry, it’s worth noting that health and safety is, of course, paramount. Health and safety in the manufacturing environment simply means avoiding accidents and minimising the risks involved working in manufacturing.

Disclaimer

All content published on the ReAgent.co.uk blog is for information only. The blog, its authors, and affiliates cannot be held responsible for any accident, injury or damage caused in part or directly from using the information provided. Additionally, we do not recommend using any chemical without reading the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which can be obtained from the manufacturer. You should also follow any safety advice and precautions listed on the product label. If you have health and safety related questions, visit HSE.gov.uk.

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