Labelling and packaging

Labels are there to help help identify hazardous chemicals, and explain what the hazards are and how to avoid them. Packaging is also important to ensure that chemicals are stored and disposed of safely.

Telling others about the classification: the hazard label

Most of the chemicals you might use are not dangerous if you use them properly and know what to do if something goes wrong, such as a spillage. But some chemicals need more careful handling than others.

Labels can help you identify the more hazardous chemicals, tell you what the hazards are and how to avoid them.

Where the supplier concludes that no hazardous properties have been identified, a chemical is not classified as hazardous and there is often nothing more to do.

But where the supplier does conclude that a chemical could cause harm, they are expected to provide information about this on the label.

A hazard label is made up of specific symbols (known as ‘pictograms’) and warnings. These pictograms and the wording that supports them are set out in law and chemical suppliers must use them where hazardous properties have been identified.

For more information please see the following link:

Hazard statements, precautionary statements and signal words

Hazard statements

A hazard statement is a phrase that describes the nature of the hazard in the substance or mixture. A hazard statement will be determined by the application of the classification criteria.

Examples of hazard statements include:

  • causes serious eye damage
  • toxic if swallowed
  • toxic to the aquatic life with long lasting effects
  • may cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled

It replaces the ‘risk or R-phrase’ used in CHIP.

Precautionary statements

A precautionary statement is a phrase that describes recommended measure(s) to minimise or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposure to a hazardous substance or mixture due to its use or disposal.

Examples of precautionary statements include:

  • wear eye protection
  • do not eat, drink or smoke when using this product
  • avoid release to the environment
  • in case of inadequate ventilation wear respiratory protection

Suppliers determine the appropriate precautionary statements (usually no more than six) based on the required hazard statements. It replaces the ‘safety or S-phrase’ used in CHIP.

Signal words

The CLP Regulation also introduces two new signal words: ‘Danger’ and ‘Warning’.

If the chemical has a more severe hazard, the label includes the signal word ‘Danger’; in case of less severe hazards, the signal word is ‘Warning’.

Terms to avoid on a hazard label

A hazard label should not include any terms, phrases or words that might mislead the user about the hazards present or underestimate them.

Terms to avoid

You should also avoid using statements such as ‘safe’, ‘non-harmful’, ‘non-toxic’, ‘non-polluting’, ‘ecological’, ‘eco’, etc. on the labels of substances or mixtures which have been classified as hazardous.

Any other statements that are inconsistent with the classification of the substance or mixture being placed on the market should not appear on the label either.

Trade / product names

Careful consideration should be given to the use of a trade or product name, or other designation of the mixture, if that name includes any of the prohibited terms, i.e. ‘eco’. Trade names should not be inconsistent with the requirements of a hazard label.


The European Biocidal Products Regulation (EC) No 528/2012 also prohibits certain terms and wording on accompanying hazard labels (Article 72 refers). For more information please see our Biocides page:

Hazard pictograms

For more detailed information and images of Hazard pictograms, please read the following page:

Cleaning products and the corrosive pictogram

For more information on cleaning products and the corrosive pictogram, please see the following page:

Safety Data Sheets

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are required by the REACH Regulation.

SDS are key documents in the safe supply, handling and use of chemicals. They should help to ensure that those who use chemicals in the workplace do so safely without risk of harm to users or the environment.

A SDS will contain the information necessary to allow employers to do a risk assessment as required by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). The SDS itself is not an assessment. However it will describe the hazards helping employers assess the probability of those hazards arising in the workplace.

SDS are a must if a chemical is hazardous and is being supplied for use at work, whether in packages or not. SDS are also needed if your chemical is not classified as hazardous but contains small amounts of a hazardous substance(s).

For more information please see the following links:

Packaging, child resistant closures, and tactile warning devices

Overall, the requirements for packaging used for hazardous chemical products are straightforward. In short, such package should:

  • prevent escape of the chemical;
  • not be adversely affected by the chemical; and
  • be strong enough to withstand normal handling.

In addition, if the package has a replaceable closure this must continue to prevent escape even after repeated use.

The packaging for some chemicals must not have a shape or designation likely to attract the active curiosity of children or mislead consumers. This applies regardless of whether the packaging is re-closeable or not.

Child resistant closures and tactile warning devices

‘Child resistant’ closures/fastenings and/or ‘tactile warnings’ (raised-profile warnings that can be understood by those with impaired vision) are also required in some cases.

The requirements to include such elements as part of packaging are triggered by either classification under a certain hazard class/category, or by certain substances at specified concentrations. The details appear in the CLP Regulation, Annex II.

More information is available in the following link: