Industry Regulations: The Case for Training and Certification
The safe use of chemicals is something we hear mentioned time and time again. Safe use of chemicals includes different angles such as minimising exposure to chemicals, proper training, understanding chemical hazards, and proper labelling, among others.
Chemicals are constantly scrutinised, with more and more being regulated, controlled, or even banned entirely. But chemicals make modern life possible; all materials and products are made of chemicals.
In this context, the regulatory landscape is constantly changing—and with that comes changes for the entire chemical industry supply chain. Chemical producers are under pressure to demonstrate compliance with REACH regulations, among others. This means ensuring the highest level of protection for the whole workforce and environment.
We interviewed Kristel Ons, Secretary General of FEICA, the Association of the European Adhesive and Sealant Industry, to understand her view on regulation compliance and why it’s more important than ever to choose the right training partner.
Responding to a Shifting Regulatory Environment
The main goal of the REACH Regulation (Regulation EC/1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances, while enhancing innovation and competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry.
The Restriction of chemicals (together with Registration, Authorisation, and Evaluation) is one of the four processes foreseen in REACH to protect human health and the environment from unacceptable risks posed by chemicals. Restrictions may limit or ban a substance or can add other conditions for its use, which can include training requirements to continue the market of substances.
Now, the REACH Regulation is being revised once more. Although the exact extent of these changes is unclear, we can likely expect to see new chemicals added to the banned list. “Under the REACH review, there is an intent to ban the most harmful chemicals,” says Kristel. These bans could mean that users at any part of the supply chain must cease the use of these chemicals. In many cases, there are not yet suitable alternatives to these harmful chemicals, causing a risk of serious interruptions to their operational supply chain.
The industry supports the goal of achieving the safe use of chemicals. However, impacts on the supply chain should be considered. So what options are there?
As Kristel explains, banning harmful chemicals without a specific reason, purely because they’re defined as "hazardous," leaves the entire EU economy in jeopardy. Not only that, but “banning chemicals wouldn’t help make society safer because there are already risk assessments and control measures in place to ensure safe use of these chemicals,” says Kristel. Instead, regulatory options should be carefully assessed.
In some cases, training, especially for professional users, is a good alternative to a ban. Introducing training on the safe use of chemicals would mean that all users could continue to work with harmful chemicals, but their health and safety and the environment would be protected because they would know how to work with those chemicals to avoid exposure.
The exact regulatory changes of REACH are not set in stone, but training is something legislators could consider. This applies to all other regulations within the chemical industry, too.
The chemical industry can contribute to ensuring the entire supply chain is fully up-to-date with chemical training by making training materials easily available. But with so many manufacturers, applications, and products within the chemical industry, and legal compliance to consider, organising training isn’t necessarily a straightforward task. That’s why it’s important to partner with the correct training platform to ensure sufficient training at every level of the supply chain, no matter which product or application an individual deals with.
Why Proper Training Matters for Chemical Industry Professionals
The introduction of training is not a new concept. REACH legislation already requires appropriate training for the use of diisocyanates. Anyone handling these chemicals at percentages of over 0.1% must now receive appropriate training and be able to demonstrate evidence of their qualifications.
Kristel strongly believes in using professional, online training platforms to demonstrate compliance throughout the whole supply chain. For the use of diisocyanates, this is something Kristel has seen success with already. And she believes it could be the answer for new changes—whether imposed by REACH regulations or another legislative amendment.
The sheer scale of training demanded by regulations makes organising it a complex task. Every member of the supply chain in every EU state must be trained, from the producers in the chemical plant through to the professional downstream users. That equates to millions of people, not just a few large chemical companies. As a result, organising training through a platform that can cater to the mass volume of trainees is essential.
Kristel highlights the problem even further: “Imagine all the separate companies trying to get their clients to comply with training. For example, here’s my training platform or here’s the link to my website—or even, we don’t offer online training, so you must do it in-house. It would be a complete mess.”
Every role also demands different responsibilities and, likely, different handling of chemicals. Consequently, people must receive different levels of training based on their
specific responsibilities. Managing this on any scale is difficult, let alone for millions of trainees. But clever certification/training platforms can help overcome these challenges. For instance, for diisocyanates training, idloom.passport, a hybrid certification and learning platform developed by idloom (well known for their Event Management Software solutions), offers set modules for users dependent on their job role. This ensures they only take the training necessary for them to carry out their day-to-day duties. At the same time, it ensures compliance with REACH legislation by giving them the knowledge needed for handling specific chemicals.
However, not all EU member states allow web-based training. Some states offer users hybrid training, where producers can choose online certification or in-person sessions. As such, it’s important to partner with certified training platforms that can organise training in a way that accommodates varying legislation. Proper training platforms like idloom.passport ensure compliance across every member state, offering both classroom and online training certification in multiple languages. As Kristel explains, idloom is already the platform of choice for REACH diisocyanates training across EU states: “It offers the entire scope for all European workers, in all European countries, in all languages, to get appropriate training. The platform ensures not only European legislation is followed but it also serves as a complement to national regulations.”
Regulations further require companies to report on training for every trainee, showing proof that it was successful. Ultimately, the employer of the user (or the self-employed user) is responsible for documenting successful completion and for organising refresher training every five years. Although, of course, the refresher period is subject to change for other regulations. How then do you keep on top of managing who’s completed training, who needs more training, and when training is due?
Kristel explains how idloom helps the chemical industry overcome these challenges: “The advantage of the platform is that it delivers certificates. You can print them out or store them. And using the admin function, employers and employees can see and store certificates to work out when training is due.” Every individual, no matter their state, job role, or industry, can take training and view their certification in one easily managed platform.
Idloom also manages automatic renewals by sending emails to people before the expiration of their certification, encouraging them to redo their training. In this way, idloom ensures any need for refresher training is immediately identified and, importantly, never missed.
Certified Training for the Chemical Industry
The way we use chemicals is changing. REACH regulations have already enforced chemical bans and, in some cases, training as an alternative to banning the use of specific chemicals. These changes are not final. We’ll likely see more regulations in the future, whether that’s complete bans or more compliance training.
If training is enforced as mandatory, chemical producers and manufacturers will be expected to comply. But without the correct type of training, industry members still risk
being harshly regulated or banned entirely. So proper training through the use of certified platforms is not only crucial for compliance but necessary for the entire industry to continue functioning at all.
While training may not be mandatory just yet, that doesn't mean it's not needed. With the right training, companies can significantly reduce the risk of chemicals being banned by demonstrating certification and proper use in a secure environment. Idloom is already operating as the essential solution for wide-scale training of diisocyanates use, offering the complete scope of training for every member of the supply chain across every job role. Idloom offers everything from registration to certification, with every step in between, including the selection of the right training, payment (if applicable), management of trainers and trainees, emailing, and a community platform with relevant materials. Even with a high level of automation, idloom remains customisable to individual needs.
With this already offering a successful solution, could we see more training in the future? We think so. As Kristel says, "Banning chemicals that do not pose a risk is not the solution."