Although The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Regulations Phase 2 has
been in place for 2 years now, I recognise that there are still some common areas
of confusion. There have been cases where companies, including suppliers, manufacturers
and distributors, are unsure as to who takes responsibility for
RoHS compliance. Unfortunately, for some companies this still may not become
clear when consulting the regulations and associated guidance documents. RoHS compliance
is then further complicated by the aspect of “due diligence” and often it becomes
a case of passing the buck. For many companies, the question still remains as to
which part of the chain should ultimately take responsibility for RoHS compliance.
Most people will now recognise the
CE mark on electrical
equipment and know that this symbolises compliance with the relevant EU directives,
including RoHS; however, is the CE mark and
Declaration of Conformity enough to prove compliance?
Generally speaking, manufacturers have the most detailed of obligations, for
example, putting together technical documentation, taking on responsibility for
marking the product appropriately and preparing the Declaration of Conformity. However,
one common mistake made is when a company re-brands a product (marks a product under
their own trademark); in this scenario, the re-brander is considered the manufacturer
and therefore has to fulfil the manufacturer's obligations. In addition, although
authorised representatives help to relieve some of the administrative burden, it
is worth noting that they do not take on legal responsibility, this remains with
Importers and distributors must ensure that the relevant documentation is to
hand should the National Measurement Office (NMO) decide to audit. They are also
responsible for checking that manufacturers have completed all the relevant requirements;
therefore, the responsibility of RoHS is in fact spread throughout the supply chain.
RoHS restricts the percentage of certain substances by weight per homogeneous
material (including plastics, ceramics, metals, alloys, resins and coatings etc.)
which, contrary to popular belief, means that suppliers of components may also need
to be RoHS compliant. If their components are intended for use within an electrical/electronic
product they need to ensure that the component does not contain more than the permitted
levels of the restricted substances. Buyers can request that their suppliers are
RoHS compliant, but they must apply due diligence as to whether the supplier’s declaration
is enough or whether they need to conduct their own testing of the goods.
A good tip for buyers is simply to know to ask the right questions and to be
specific when doing so. For example; is lead solder used in the factory and are
the rework and repair areas kept separate to other operations? The latter scenario
could result in unintentional contamination by lead or other restricted substances.
It is also worth bearing in mind additional components that you might not
have considered. If the NMO were to audit, for example, would electrical tape pass
the test? Have any soldering irons/tips been used which might throw up issues? Additional
areas of concern could also include plastics such as PVC and coatings such as corrosion
In summary, it is wise to take a risk based approach towards RoHS compliance?
For example, do you know where the risks lie? Do you have full visibility of your
As RoHS is an EU directive, it is also worth being aware that there are other
EU countries which will have the same laws; however, enforcement may vary. Other
countries outside the EU for example China and Japan also have similar legislation;
therefore, if you are importing or selling electrical or electronic equipment (EEE) overseas you may need to consider
your obligations in those countries.
Want to learn more about RoHS? We are hosting an event in London on 10 May, ook you place online here. There are limited places available.
If you would like to talk about RoHS compliance, please give me a call on
01789 208 707 or email me at