REACH exemption certificates

Registration Evaluation Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Article 67 (1) and annex XVII Entry 6, prohibits the placing on the market of articles to which asbestos fibres have been intentionally added.

The REACH Enforcement (Amendment) Regulations 2013 grants the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) the powers to issue an exemption from the prohibition imposed by REACH, for asbestos-containing articles which were installed and/or in service before 1 January 2005, subject to a set of conditions to be applied to the exemption certificate to ensure a high level of protection of human health.

An exempting authority may issue a certificate exempting a person or class of persons from the prohibition in relation to:

  • an activity or a class of activities
  • an asbestos-containing article or class of such articles

HSE will only grant an exemption where there is a valid justification for the requirement of an exemption and if it can be demonstrated that a high level of protection of human health can be ensured.

Further information on the application process is available below.

Exemption application process

  1. Application contents
    • full name and job title of applicant
    • full company address inc registration No. (if applicable)
    • details of sector / nature of business
  2. Details of exemption requests
    • nature of request
    • type of exemption (ie class exemption / single exemption)
    • reasons why exemption is required
    • details of asbestos-containing article(s)
    • purpose of exemption (ie Loan out / exhibit / sale etc.)
    • date for exemption to commence / end (if short term)
  3. Justification and evidence
    • details and justification of need for exemption (to include socioeconomic risk assessment)
    • demonstration in writing of how a high level of protection of human health will be ensured if the application were successful ie risk assessment / method statement / competent personnel involved
  4. Submit application
    • submit application to HSE by email [email protected]
    • HSE will send acknowledgement of receipt of application
    • additional information may be requested by HSE
    • HSE will aim to make a decision within 6 weeks of receipt of all information required

Exemption certificates - FAQ

Does placing on the market mean selling?
Placing on the market means supplying or making available, whether in return for payment or free of charge to a third party. Placing on the market includes import.

What do you mean by 'a competent person'?
For the purpose of complying with the exemption conditions, HSE expects 'a competent person' to be a person who has received appropriate information, instruction and training and can demonstrate an adequate understanding of the task to be undertaken.

How long will the certificate be valid for?
The class exemption certificate will be valid for 10 years from the date it was signed.

Why does the certificate only last for 10 years?
It is normal Government policy to review Legislative requirements. HSE will perform the review and there will only be action required by the sector stakeholders if the exemption conditions need amending. The relevant sectors will be consulted in these circumstances.

Museum exemption certificates - FAQ

What if we need to send an asbestos-containing artefact out for conservation?
The REACH prohibition does not apply in these circumstances as this activity is not considered to be 'placing on the market', therefore no exemption is required.

What if the loan / transfer is intended for a non-museum recipient?
This is not covered by the class exemption. Applications for exemptions for loans to non-museums must be submitted to HSE to consider on a case-by-case basis.

What happens if a museum does not apply the conditions set out in the exemption?
The conditions have been set to ensure a high level of protection of human health and must be applied. If a museum does not apply the conditions set out in the exemption then they will be in breach of the REACH Regulation.

Condition 3b of the certificate requires a written record to be prepared. How long does this record need to be retained for?
The written record is to be retained for the period of the loan.

Does this exemption apply to a museum that is operated by a single person?
The class exemption applies to museums operated by an 'organisation' and museums operated by 'individuals'. The transfer of an artefact is not to the person/people who run the museum but to the museum itself.

What if a museum only holds artefacts for archival purposes, but does not make them publicly accessible?
Museums do not have to display every artefact in their possession. However, if an organisation does not make any of the artefacts they hold publicly accessible, then we do not believe that they could be classed as a museum.

In the exemption certificate a museum is defined as an 'organisation' does this imply that it is only a museum if it is run by more than one person?
Although the term 'organisation' can suggest the involvement of more than one person, for the purpose of this class exemption 'organisation' includes something that is organised by one person.

Acetylene gas cylinder exemption certificates - FAQ

What is the life expectancy of an acetylene cylinder?
An acetylene cylinder can be in service for over 50 years. Many of the cylinders that contain asbestos will have at least 25 years of service life remaining.

Condition e) requires systems to be put in place to ensure safe disposal when the cylinders are taken out of service – what does this mean?
It is a legal requirement to properly dispose of asbestos waste. Many suppliers of acetylene gas cylinders take a large deposit from the customer. This is to ensure that the cylinders are returned to the supplier for proper disposal rather than just be discarded by the customer when finished with.

What if an acetylene cylinder is damaged?
Acetylene cylinders have to be periodically inspected and tested every 10 years. In addition to this condition d) requires the supplier to assess the cylinder to ensure there has been no damage in the period following the latest inspection.

Heritage vehicle exemption certificates - FAQ

Does this exemption include parts for heritage vehicles, which contain asbestos?
No this exemption does not include parts for heritage vehicles – the 'placing on the market ' of vehicle parts containing asbestos is strictly prohibited.

Does this exemption certificate cover the 'placing on the market' of heritage trailers or semi-trailers?
This exemption certificate does NOT cover the 'placing on the market' of trailers which contain asbestos; however, a heritage vehicle and its accompanying semi-trailer can be placed on the market together,  provided the exemption conditions are met in respect of both units (the semi-trailer is also over 30 years old etc.)

What qualifies as a heritage vehicle?
A heritage vehicle, means a vehicle manufactured at least thirty years before the date it is placed on the market.

What parts of a heritage vehicle are likely to contain asbestos?
There are a number of parts where asbestos might be found in a heritage vehicle. Brake shoes, clutch plates, gaskets, and clutch linings are the most common, but there may be other parts.

Could the asbestos parts be changed for non-asbestos parts before the heritage vehicle is placed on the market?
If the parts are reasonably accessible such as brake shoes, then these can be changed, but this must be done by a competent person with adequate controls in place to prevent the spread of asbestos.

Does this exemption certificate cover vehicle hire, such as wedding cars, where the owner/driver remains in charge?
The REACH prohibition does not apply in these circumstances as this activity is considered to be 'continued use' rather than 'placing on the market', therefore no exemption is required.

Does the definition of vehicles include vehicles such as tractors, fire engines and preserved fighting vehicles, as these are not actually intended to carry goods or passengers?
Yes, the definition will cover all vehicles such as tractors, fire engines, fighting vehicles etc. as they all involve transport of people/goods in some way, even it if that was not their primary function (eg a fire engine was used to transport fire fighters to the scene of a fire).

Does the definition cover motorbikes?
Yes, it does cover motorbikes.

Condition 3b requires a record of the articles, location and type of asbestos in the vehicle. What if there is uncertainty to which parts of the vehicle contains asbestos? Are we expected to dismantle the vehicle to find out?
No. Condition 3b gives a requirement to provide this information 'as far as is reasonably practicable'. Dismantling the vehicle to check for asbestos would not be reasonably practicable and we would very much advise against this.

Current exemption certificates

The Health and Safety Executive has granted the following class exemption certificates:

  • Museum sector to enable the 'placing on the market' of artefacts that contain asbestos for exhibitions etc
  • Acetylene gas cylinders to enable the 'placing on the market' of acetylene gas cylinders that contain asbestos
  • Heritage vehicles to enable the 'placing on the market' of heritage vehicles that contain asbestos

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Updated 2024-02-23