The EU introduces mandatory training of diisocyanates workers from 24 August 2023 in new REACH Restriction

The Restriction on diisocyanates under the EU’s REACH Regulation published today in the EU Official Journal introduces new minimum training requirements for workers handling diisocyanates and mixtures containing diisocyanates. ISOPA/ALIPA and their member companies welcome the Restriction which is an important step to enhance and harmonise the level of protection of workers using diisocyanates across the EU. The Restriction will apply from 24 August 2023 after a transition period of three years, and ISOPA/ALIPA together with other industry-associations are developing a comprehensive package of training materials for the industrial and professional value chains.

The EU REACH Restriction process for diisocyanates started in 2016 when the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) submitted a proposal to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). ECHA delivered its opinion to the European Commission in 2018 on the measure, finding that mandatory training is the most appropriate, protective and effective EU-wide risk management measure [1] to reduce occupational asthma cases among workers who deal with diisocyanates.

The Industry agrees with ECHA’s assessment that the Restriction is the most effective and efficient measure to enhance occupational health and safety. Jörg Palmersheim, Secretary General for ISOPA/ALIPA, said: “The Restriction is the culmination of years of constructive cooperation between the diisocyanates value-chains and the European REACH Authorities. It raises the bar for how we can work together to enhance protection of workers and ensure the use of best practices across the EU in terms of health and safety. We now look forward to ensure the successful implementation of the Restriction together with the downstream users and Member States.”

The Restriction establishes requirements for the use and placing on the market of diisocyanates as substances on their own, as a constituent in other substances or in mixtures for industrial and professional use(s) in concentrations above 0,1% by weight. Specifically, the Restriction establishes:

  • Minimum requirements for training to be provided to industrial and professional users without prejudice to stricter national obligations in the Member States.
  • Requirements for diisocyanate suppliers to provide training materials in the official language(s) of the Member State(s) where they supply the substance(s) or mixture(s);
  • Obligation to include information on training requirements on the packaging by suppliers of diisocyanates;
  • Mandatory documentation by the employer or self-employed of the successful completion of the training which must be renewed at least every five years.
  • Obligation for Member States to report on progress and impact of the Restriction.

ISOPA/ALIPA and its members are committed to working with stakeholders and authorities to make available the training and courses across the EU in all Member State languages.

The diisocyanates industry’s work moving forward

The Restriction provides a transition period of three years from its entry into force for compliance with the requirements.

ISOPA/ALIPA is already working together with other industry-associations on an online training material platform. The platform will provide the different levels of training required based on the risk categorization of the tasks that diisocyanate workers perform.

We will share regular updates with guidance and on the availability of training moving forward. If you want to receive further updates you can register here.

About the EU’s REACH Regulation and Restriction

The EU Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) aims at improving the protection of human health and the environment from potential risks from chemical substances; whilst ensuring the EU chemicals industry’s global competitiveness is maintained.

About the uses of diisocyanates

REACH Restriction may limit or ban the manufacture, placing on the market, or use of a substance to protect human health and the environment. For diisocyanates, the Restriction entails that all workers who interact directly with the substances are both informed and trained in order to manage any risks associated with handling the substances otherwise the use is restricted. Typical uses of diisocyanates are handling, spraying, different types of application, post treatment, cleaning and handling of waste.

About diisocyanates and polyurethanes

Together with polyols, diisocyanates are the essential building blocks of polyurethanes, a plastic material used in a multitude of everyday objects and applications. It can be tailored to be either rigid or flexible, and it is the material of choice for a broad range of end-user applications such as insulation (of buildings, refrigerators and freezers), adhesives, coatings, automotive parts, sportswear, bedding and furniture.