Labels on chemical products help to identify hazardous chemicals, and explain what the hazards are and how to avoid them.
You may be familiar with the older warning signs that appeared on some bottles or packages containing hazardous materials.
These symbols are called pictograms. They help us to know that the chemicals we are using might be:
- highly or extremely flammable
- (very) toxic
- dangerous for the environment
These symbols have been replaced by new ones because the law on chemical classification and labelling has changed.
The CLP hazard pictograms have a new shape, new design and a new colour:
A new European Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures came into force on 20 January 2009 in all EU Member States, including the UK.
It is often known by its abbreviated form, ‘the CLP Regulation’ or just plain ‘CLP’.
The CLP Regulation applies the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System on the classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS) across all European Union countries, including the UK.
GHS is a voluntary agreement rather than a law, so to make sure everyone follows it, it has to become legally binding. That’s what the CLP Regulation does.
As GHS was heavily influenced by the old EU system, the CLP Regulation is very similar in many ways. The duties on suppliers are broadly the same - classification, labelling and packaging.
EU legislation on classification, labelling and packaging consists of three laws:
- The Dangerous Substances Directive (Directive 67/548/EEC, ‘DSD’)
- The Dangerous Preparations Directive (Directive 1999/45/EC, ‘DPD’)
- Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 ('CLP Regulation' or 'CLP') - the new regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures
- Directive 67/548/EEC - classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances - European Agency for Safety and Health at Work website
- Classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous preparations - Directive (No. 1999/45/EC) - Europa website
- Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 - Europa website
- CLP legislation, guidance and archives - EU commission website
- CLP pictograms - European Chemical Agency - ECHA website