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Regulations & EHS&S



EU Poison Centres: What to expect from 2019

By Tarn Brown, Principal – Hazard Communication Services at Yordas Group - 29th January 2019

Tarn Brown, Principal – Hazard Communication Services at Yordas Group, explains how industry requirements are set to change, with the aim of harmonization across Europe.
 
Poison Centres play an important role in ensuring the safe use of chemicals by providing vital information in case of a poisoning incident.  EU Poison Centres answer an average of 600,000 calls each year in response to accidental exposure. Until recently, industry requirements differed between member states.  The information submitted varied widely, adding administrative strain on Poison Centres.
 
Under Article 45 of the CLP Regulation the requirements on industry are set to change with the aim of harmonization across the EU. Importers and downstream users placing mixtures classified as hazardous to human health on the market will be responsible for submitting information to poison centres in relevant Member State(s). New online tools and a harmonized EU format will help companies submit this information. Once the Implementing Regulation is adopted, deadlines for submissions will apply in a stepwise manner depending on the intended use of the mixture, with more information than ever before having to be disclosed on the composition of relevant mixtures.
 
The deadlines depending on the intended use of the mixture are as follows:
●        Consumer Use: January 2020
●        Professional Use: January 2021
●        Industrial Use: January 2024.
 
These are general deadlines. However, if recipients of products have notified under the current regulation they are not obligated to notify under the new regulation until 2025.
 
Poison Centre Notification Portal
2019 is set to be a big year for the ‘Poison Centre Notification Portal (PCN)’. In discussions that have been going on since 2017 we’re finally expecting to see the first version up and running.
 
In 2017 ECHA conducted a feasibility study into the establishment of a centralized notification system which would allow users to notify and submit notifications to several member states at once.  Following the study, ECHA stated that it would “develop an EU portal enabling submissions from companies, dispatching of submissions to the appointed bodies (and their designated poison centres), and central storage of the submissions for auditing purposes and possible retrieval by submitters”. However, with the caveat that member states may opt out and develop their own national submission systems where preferred. At the time of writing, all Member States appear to be on board with the centralized notification portal, however some might also run their own systems alongside ECHAs portal.
 
The first version of the portal, available in early 2019, offers basic functionality (submission of notifications and dispatch to member states). Increased functionality wil come in Version 2, which is set for release in the third quarter of 2019.
 
Member States Getting Ready
Member state poison centres and associated bodies are gearing up for an influx of new notifications as the implementation of a new notification process is not only impacting industry, but also those who process the information.
 
Poland’s competent authority has put together an opinion paper covering their concerns regarding the ‘Implementation of CLP Annex VIII’. In the paper Poland voiced concerned over how to finance the increased workloads associated with the notification requirements of CLP annex VII, requesting that the Commission confirm through legal means that member states would not be required to pay additional fees to ECHA.
 
A Potential Extension
In October 2018 the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (AISE) put forward a request to the European Commission and Member states for the ‘Postponement of applicability dates for harmonized reporting to Poison Centers’. Along with others in the chemical industry, AISE has concerns that there are key issues which, if left unaddressed, will ‘create a lack of legal certainty for all actors on how to implement the new provisions of Annex VIII CLP’.
 
AISE's concerns have been mirrored by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), which stated that uncertainties have resulted in it being ‘impossible’ that ECHA and/or the Commission will be ready to meet the first poison centre deadline. ECHA have acknowledged that industry is finding the time frames tight, but insist that there are no current plans to extend the deadline. The commission has further added that the remaining aspects (such as the first version of the centralized notification portal) will be ready before January 2020.
 
Even with both ECHA and the Commission standing firm, an extension can’t be fully taken off the table until at least: all member states confirm they are ready to accept notifications, final amendments to CLP annex VIII have been made, and the guidance documents relating to the provisions of CLP Annex VIII have been finalized.
 
Overall, 2019 will be a year of change for poison centre requirements and keeping up to date with the latest changes will be the key to successfully meeting notification obligations.
 
Author:
Tarn Brown, Principal – Hazard Communication Services at Yordas Group, Lancaster Environment Centre Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK
T: +44 (0) 1524 510278