Retention of documents is an important topic, especially in terms of the law on hazardous substances. The REACH Regulation regulates the disclosure of information, also through the use of safety data sheets. As a result, every involved party, from the manufacturer / importer to intermediaries and the end consumer, receives documents that have a specified legal retention period. Every amendment to a data sheet produces new documents that will also need to be retained. But what is the retention period for safety data sheets? Could the period for old versions of safety data sheets expire even though the hazardous substance is still in active use?
Period of retention
According to Regulation (EC) 1907/ 2006 (REACH), Article 36, the general retention period for all documents and information based on the REACH Regulation is ten years. For a consumer, the ten-year retention period ends after the last use of the hazardous substance. For intermediaries or manufacturers, the retention period ends ten years after the last supply or manufacture, and for importers, it ends ten years after the last import.
Retention period for old safety data sheets
All information must be retained until the end of the retention period. This also applies to old safety data sheets that have already been replaced by new versions. The retention period also applies to companies that close down or are kept in business by a third party. The new owner or person responsible for the liquidation must be able to make available all REACH-relevant documents until the end of the original retention period.
Whether own business or new owner, all REACH-relevant documents must be available within the retention period for presentation to the competent national authorities or the ECHA upon request.
Sources: Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 (REACH Regulation), consolidated version, as of 14/07/2016