Background The new EU Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH) Regulation to control the trade and use of chemicals has a great potential to reduce worker exposure to hazardous substances and therefore reduce chemical-related occupational diseases. REACH requires manufacturers of substances of very high concern (SVHC) to request an authorisation for each use of these substances in order to continue marketing them. There are between 1500 and 2000 SVHC on the European market; however, to date, the European Chemicals Agency has published only 29 substances as candidates for the authorisation procedure. This work aims to contribute to the practical implementation of REACH by proposing a list of SVHC which, from a union's perspective, should have priority for inclusion in the authorisation procedure.
Methods In a first stage, SVHC for prioritisation were identified, prioritisation criteria were established, and scores for each criterion were defined for finally developing the Trade Union List.
Results Through previously presented criteria, the Trade Union List includes 305 high-production-volume chemicals that meet the requirements of the authorisation process under REACH. 190 of these substances are associated with recognised occupational diseases, and 22 have been included in the REACH Candidate List.
Conclusions In this paper, we present a precautionary but scientifically aligned process for identifying, scoring and ranking SVHC, including categories of substances not currently considered in other approaches to the REACH Regulation. This proposed methodology is advocated by Trade Unions to coherently prioritise SVHC in order to implement and enforce REACH in a way that will more effectively protect the health of the European working and general population.
- Occupational exposure
- hazardous chemicals
- REACH regulation
- authorisation process
- occupational health
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