Working with chemicals (REACH Regulation)

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and professional users of chemical substances and mixtures must meet safety standards. Is your company established in the Netherlands or another EU country? You must meet the REACH requirements.

What is REACH?

REACH is the European regulation on chemicals. REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals. Chemical substances may cause pollution or harm human health. For this reason the production, use, and selling of these substances is limited and strictly regulated.

Requirements for working with chemicals

Companies must keep to the obligations the REACH regulation sets, among others:

  • collect, register, and provide information on the substances
  • classify the chemicals by hazard level
  • register chemicals
  • take safety measures

It depends on the nature and use of the chemicals which requirements you must fulfil. This also depends on your business' role in the supply chain. Are you for instance a manufacturer or a professional user (downstream user)? The Dutch REACH and CLP Helpdesk’s infographic shows the obligations for the different (types of) companies. You can use the European Chemicals Agency ECHA's overview of roles to find out which steps you need to take, or the Dutch-language REACH and CLP Helpdesk tool.

Manufacturers and importers must register

Do you manufacture or import chemical substances into the European Union (EU)? You must register the properties of these chemicals with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). You only need to register if you manufacture or import at least 1,000 kilograms of these chemical substances per year. With your registration you specify among others the dangers of the substances, and how users can handle the chemicals safely.

Issuing and checking the safety data sheet (MSDS)

When marketing chemicals, you must issue professional users with a safety data sheet (veiligheidsinformatieblad, VIB). In the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) you provide information about:

  • the risks of the chemical substance for employees and the environment
  • the safe use of the chemical substance in the workplace

The MSDS must also set out the necessary measures to protect health, safety, and the environment. You can consult ECHA's information on safety data sheets to find out if your safety data sheet is up to standards.

Safe use of chemicals

Industrial users and professional users must apply the measures and precautions included in the MSDS. They also need to inform their suppliers, for instance, if the MSDS is not or no longer correct or complete. The responsibility for safe and healthy working procedures lies with the companies that use the chemicals.

Selling explosive substances

Do you sell explosives precursors (substances that can be used to manufacture explosives)?

As the seller you must:

  • let the buying company know that the substance is an explosives precursor and that specific rules apply (duty to inform)
  • train your staff, so they know the rules for the trade in these chemical substances
  • you have a duty to report any suspicious transaction, disappearance, or theft of these substances to the Notified Chemicals Transactions hotline (088 154 00 00) or see for more information (in Dutch).

Additional obligations apply to a number of substances:

  • you have to check your customer’s identity and check if they need to have a licence (verification duty). Private individuals always need a licence to buy these substances
  • You have to record the customer’s data and retain these for 18 months. You can decide yourself how you do so, but you must keep the privacy rules.

Read more on your duties in the factsheet on the Explosives precursors act. The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) monitors compliance with the rules.