By John Osborne, UT staff
Cracow, Poland-Two bodies within the European chemical industry have reached an agreement which should help protect workers involved in handling hazardous substances.
On 27 Oct, at a conference in Cracow, the Social Partners in the European chemical industry-represented by the European Mine, Chemicals and Energy Workers Federation (EMCEF) and the European Chemical Employers Group (ECEG)-agreed on the concept of substitution.
This substitution of hazardous chemicals by other less dangerous materials has been an aspect under close scrutiny by the parties concerned with implementing REACH-the forthcoming European Union regulation covering registration, evaluation, and authorisation of chemicals.
Reinhard Reibsch, secretary general of EMCEF, and Jean Pelin, president of ECEG, said in a press statement that the bodies have agreed to use substitution, "when risk cannot be adequately controlled by proper management, where an alternative substance exists and social and economic conditions allow."
Both EMCEF and ECEG are members of CEFIC, the European chemical industry federation.
The two parties said the "authorisation procedure should especially use processes employed within the chemical Industry, which analyse the relevant use and exposure patterns of substances and lead to substitution if the substance cannot be handled safely."
CEFIC's statement on the agreement commented that, "Substitution is part of the history of chemicals, but it is a complex process that involves all actors in the supply chain and cannot succeed without numerous conditions."
REACH could in this way contribute to promoting research and development and new activities that would create sustainable jobs in the chemical sector, the statement added.
Pelin commented that, "this is the third time that the Social Partners have agreed on principles of common interest to be taken into consideration in this important legislation. The present joint position addresses the current debates in the European Parliament, and especially the authorisation procedure."