Sharon McGuiness new ECHA Chief Executive

27.06.2022 - Sharon McGuinness has been appointed to a five-year term as the new executive director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the body that administrates the REACH chemicals legislation.

She succeeds Bjorn Hansen, who retired in March this year. Since April, Shay O’Malley has held the position in an acting capacity.

An Irish national, McGuinness has served as chief executive of Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority (HSA) since 2018. Prior to that, she was assistant chief executive for the authority’s Chemicals and Prevention division, where she had responsibility for division management, policy provision, advice and enforcement for a wide range of occupational health and safety, chemical and market surveillance legislation aimed at protecting human health and safety for workers and consumers.

The new ECHA executive director is an honors graduate of University College Dublin with a bachelor of science in pharmacology and chemistry and also holds a PhD in pharmacology, as well as diplomas in Legal Studies and Company Direction She was a member of ECHA’s management board from 2014 to 2020 and the board’s chair from 2016 to 2020.

Marco Mensink, director general of the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), called McGuinness “a well-known and highly regarded expert with decades of first-hand experience in chemical legislation.” The association, he said, is “confident that her expertise and demonstrable ability in providing outstanding leadership will help fulfil the agency’s mandate during her term in the office.

Since the establishment of ECHA in 2007, Mensink said, CEFIC has been closely collaborating with the agency and other stakeholders to exchange knowledge, techniques and approaches, especially with regard to the implementation and enforcement of REACH.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist


ECHA European Chemicals Agency