Irish companies that use chemicals have been urged to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Chemicals used by businesses here include paints, glues, cleaning products, right up to industrial pharmaceutical chemicals. A range of businesses use chemicals from pharmaceutical companies to builders to jewellers.

A disorderly Brexit will have a significant impact on the supply chain obligations of Irish companies and so any businesses that make, import, supply or use chemicals should look at where they are getting their products to determine the potential impact.

A survey by the Health and Safety Authority found that 64% of businesses get their chemicals from the UK, and 27% get their chemicals from Northern Ireland. In terms of quantity, 22% of companies surveyed import more than 100 tonnes per year.

Yvonne Mullooly, Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, said a no-deal Brexit could have an adverse effect on businesses that import chemicals from the UK.

"It depends on the chemical. In some particular instance, it might be a crucial raw material for a particular product especially in the pharma chemical industry," she said. "The greatest impact on businesses is probably in relation to their own business contracts, so for example, they might have a contract to deliver a particular product within a certain time and if they are not able to deliver it within that time, then there would be a financial implication for them in penalties etc."

She advised companies to look at what chemicals they have on site that are coming from the UK and then to talk to their suppliers and find out what their suppliers plan to do. "Does the UK supplier intend to set up an EU company to take on the regulatory responsibilities because if they don't then they will be responsible for regulating the chemical on the EU market so they will have to register it," Ms Mullooly said.

In some cases, UK companies are setting up EU based companies to act on their behalf. 

"The other option open to a lot of companies which we are urging them to do is look at other supply chains across the EU and see if they can source it from within the EU. Germany, France, Spain are suppliers of chemicals too."

Some businesses are stockpiling chemicals in preparation for a no-deal Brexit.

"What we're finding is they are only stockpiling enough for a couple of weeks but in many cases, they are not able to stockpile because they do not have the storage facilites on site to store them safely," she said.

"We were dealing with one company in Shannon, Lufthansa Technik Turbine. They put stockpiles in place for some chemicals, but in relation to the gas argon which they use in the fixing of engines, they weren't able to stockpile that, so they are talking to suppliers in the UK to make sure they have a continous supply."

Companies are encouraged to obtain up to date information regarding the trading and use of chemicals from www.hsa.ie/brexit and the HSA chemicals helpdesk at chemicals@hsa.ie.