We evaluate product safety along the entire product value chain, based on global standards which relate not only to the manufacture of products and their transportation but also to the use of those products. During the monitoring process, we conduct a systematic review of potential risks which might arise from our established products, or from products which are being used in new applications or have recently been launched onto the market. Crucial factors to consider when we conduct risk assessments are the applications of the products by the customer, the properties of the products (such as toxicity) and the quantities of the products. We hold more than 25,000 safety data sheets for our products in many languages, which provide information to our customers. In addition, we have brought together all existing provisions relating to the handling of our products in a global guideline on product stewardship.
Depending on the risk potential, we also assess whether conditions are in place for the proper handling of gases on customer sites. Moreover, we offer services such as inspection, maintenance and repairs relating to the supply of gases on site to our customers. We used an in-house training programme in 2017, for example, to deliver training on the safe handling of gases to around 1,500 participants in Germany and Austria. Our customers also take part in our training programme.
We constantly monitor compliance with legal regulations. In 2017, we continued to prepare for the third registration phase of REACH (the EU Regulation on chemicals) in 2018. However, only a small proportion of the substances we produce are required to be registered under REACH. We provide clear information on an internet platform about how we comply with the provisions of REACH and which substances are registered. At 31 December 2017, seven substances were registered, while around 20 were still in the final registration phase. In other countries, such as China, Australia and Korea, registration phases modelled on the European provisions also apply. Our experts are also working in those countries to ensure we meet the relevant requirements.
As the manufacturer of medical devices, we implement the requirements of the European RoHS Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) in our Healthcare business around the world. When operating production plants for medical gases, we comply worldwide with the Good Manufacturing Practice for pharmaceutical products.
Through our product stewardship programme, we also support the Global Product Strategy (GPS) devised by the International Council of Chemical Associations for the safe handling of chemical substances and the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.