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COSHH - Are you ready for January 2021 changes?

COSHH - Are you ready for January 2021 changes?

The UK may have left the EU, but it is still 'strongly committed to the effective and safe management of chemicals' and from the 1st of January 2021, Great Britain will have it's own framework for COSHH that will reflect the EU (EU BPR) framework but will operate independently. 

Why are changes happening? 

It's all down to Brexit and the UK leaving the European Union. The UK's transition period will end on the 31st of Decemeber 2020 and the new regulations will come into effect as of the 1st January 2021. In a nutshell, the UK has pretty much duplicated various EU laws related to chemicals, and then renamed them to make them UK-only legislation.

How will it affect me?

Working with biocides?

From the 1st of January 2021, if an organisation wishes to apply for an active substance to be approved, or for a biocidal product to be authorised in Great Britain, you will need to apply to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) instead of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Active substance approvals and new biocidal product authorisations will be specific to Great Britain.

If an organisation wishes to apply for an active substance to be approved, or for a biocidal product to be authorised in the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, you will continue to apply to ECHA.

HSE will take on the functions that ECHA performs, where these are still relevant in Great Britain. For example, HSE will co-ordinate the active substance evaluation process for Great Britain.

The HSE will also introduce its own processes for receiving and processing applications. Organisations must use these rather than ECHA’s systems when applying for:

  • An active substance approval.
  • Product authorisation.
  • Other permissions under the new GB regulatory framework (GB BPR).

Chemicals classification, labelling, and packaging (CLP)

There will be guidance available on GB CLP Regulation as of January 2021. For now, here are changes under the GB CLP Regulation from January 2021 your organisation should prepare for...

GB CLP Agency - GB-based businesses supplying the GB market with chemicals will deal with HSE as the GB CLP Agency instead of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

GB Notification - GB-based businesses will be required to notify the GB CLP Agency of the classification and labelling of the substances they place on the GB market, whether on their own or in mixtures, where they meet the criteria for notification.

GB mandatory classification and labelling (GB MCL) - GB-based businesses must classify and label their substances, where required, in accordance with GB MCL and with the entries in the GB MCL list hosted and managed by the GB CLP Agency.

Downstream users and distributors supplied from the EU/ European Economic Area (EEA) - There will be new requirements on GB-based downstream users and distributors who are currently supplied by businesses in the EU/EEA. The GB-based downstream user or distributor will become an importer after the end of the transition period if these supply arrangements continue. 

Exporting to the EU/EEA - Responsibility for the classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals exported to the EU/EEA from Great Britain will rest with the EU/EEA-based importer.

Prior informed consent 

The main changes you should be aware of to help you prepare are...

  1. Companies exporting PIC-listed chemicals from GB will no longer be able to use ePIC and will need to notify HSE of exports of listed chemicals using the new notification procedures.
  2. The PIC regime will apply to listed chemicals that are exported from GB, including to EU countries and to Northern Ireland. Companies that currently only move listed chemicals within the EU single market and do not export them outside the EU or NI will have to start to notify these to HSE.
  3. Where explicit consent has been given by an importing country to another EU country under the current EU PIC arrangements, it will be necessary to seek the consent of that country for GB exports of the chemical. HSE will seek consent on the exporter’s behalf.
  4. Exporters and importers will need to include in the information they submit to HSE in the first quarter of each year, the details of the quantities of listed chemicals exported to or imported from EU countries and NI.

Pesticides or plant protection products (PPP)

All existing active substance approvals, PPP authorisations, and MRLs will continue to be valid in GB and existing PPP authorisations remain valid until their current expiry date.

Active substance approvals are due to expire before December 2023 and will be extended for 3 years to allow time for the necessary evaluation work.

After the end of the transition period, Great Britain will set MRLs based on our own assessments but all existing MRLs will remain valid until they are amended.

Applicants must continue to meet existing conditions under the new GB pesticide regime.

However, applicants for new active substance approvals, PPP authorisations, and MRLs will continue to submit applications in the same format to HSE. There will be no changes in data requirements or format for supporting information for new applications.

To gain access to both GB and EU markets, new applications will need to be submitted under both the GB and EU regimes. This may be a common application where there is no divergence between the two regimes.

Applicants, authorisation holders, and approval holders can be based anywhere in the world.


The role your organisations currently undertakes within the EU REACH may change under the UK REACH, and in some cases rather significantly. Therefore, it is important that you undertake a review of your role within the EU and UK REACH regimes. To maintain or gain access to the EU/EEA/NI and GB markets, there may be a number of actions you will need to take.

See the HSE's guidance on REACH here.

What can I do to prepare?

HSE's podcasts

The HSE are hosting a number of podcasts over the next couple of months in order to provide more information on the changes to how chemicals will be regulated from January 2021. You can sign up for free access here.

Follow HSE guidance

As well as providing information through their podcast series, the HSE has developed a Chemical Industries guide for when the Brexit transition period ends. Keep an eye on their website for any new information over the next couple of months.

Train your staff

Employers have a duty to protect employees (and anyone else who comes into the workplace) from the hazards of substances used in that work environment, and when the transition period is over, this will not change. It is also an employer’s duty to ensure that their organisation is complying with current legislation, so it's important staff are aware of changes to legislation ahead of time.

Providing training to your staff is a fantastic way of showing due-diligence with the law and will help your staff to grasp new or existing legislation in a simple way.

Here at iHASCO, we offer an online COSHH Training course that looks at the types of hazardous substances that could be encountered, the meaning of warning symbols, the hazards that come with substances, and how to use them safely.

This course is going to be updated to reflect the new changes in legislation. For this reason, we advise our clients' end-users to retake the course once it has been updated (your Account Manager will inform you of this).

The IOSH Approved can be completed in just 25 minutes and provides a printable certificate upon completion of the course.

Interested in trialing the course? Claim your free, no-obligation trial today!

COSHH Training