Updated Mar 4, 2024

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Defra's 23/24 UK REACH Work Programme and Rationale published

On 15 February 2024 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published its 2023-2024 work programme under Assimilated Regulation 1907/2006, on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (UK REACH), and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Scottish and Welsh Governments published its rationale used to prioritise substances for potential regulatory action under UK REACH.


UK REACH is part of Great Britain's independent chemical regulatory framework, enabling decision-making that best reflects the needs of Great Britain, while ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment. It entered into force on 1 January 2021 after the UK left the EU and the EU REACH regulation was brought into UK law.

The statutory purpose of UK REACH is to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment in Great Britain.

2023/24 Work Programme and Rationale

The work programme sets out how HSE, with the support of the Environment Agency, will deliver its regulatory activities to meet the objective and timescales set out in UK REACH. It outlines the operational activities that they will undertake in the work year 2023/24, indicating multi-annual work when appropriate, in line with HSE's obligations as the agency for UK REACH.

To complement the publication of the work programme, DEFRA has published the rationale used for identifying particular substances for potential regulatory action under UK REACH in 2023/24. It explains how priorities for this strand of potential risk management activity have been identified, based on a review of restriction proposals put forward by stakeholders, and substances proposed for restriction by other regulations, such as the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

DEFRA and the Scottish and Welsh Governments used this exercise primarily to identify two types of activity in UK REACH:

  • restriction: a mechanism for limiting, banning, or imposing conditions on the manufacture, use, or placing on the market of a substance or group of substances;
  • regulatory management option analysis (RMOA): analysis produced by HSE or the Environment Agency to assess the potential human health and environmental risks associated with the use of a substance or group of substances, alongside the existing regulatory framework and any specific controls relating to them.

They have identified the following five priorities for the 2023 to 2024 UK REACH work programme:

  • per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS):
    • start preparing a restriction dossier on PFAS in fire-fighting foams (FFFs), and
    • assess potential additional restrictions on further wide dispersive uses of PFAS and PFAS likely to be released from consumer articles,
  • formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers in articles: continue the RMOA initiated under the 2022 to 2023 work programme and consider its recommendations;
  • bisphenols in thermal paper: continue the RMOA initiated under the 2022 to 2023 work programme and consider its recommendations;
  • hazardous flame retardants: further develop the risk assessment on flame retardants and consider the recommendations on completion;
  • intentionally added microplastics: monitor progress of the evidence project initiated and commissioned under the 2022 to 2023 work programme.

The rationale document sets out how and why they have established these priorities and explains why some proposals were not adopted.

For more information on this subject, see:

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