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Chemical labels have changed – How does this affect you?

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Chemical products are used every day at work, in cleaning products, lubricants, paints and glues. Labels on these products tell us useful information about such as:

  • The type of chemicals the product contains;
  • What hazards are associated with the product;
  • How to use the chemical safely.

New legislation, known as the CLP regulation (classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures), has changed the way chemical products are classified to identify hazards and how this information is communicated on labels and safety data sheets (SDS).

The CLP regulation implements the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) in the EU. GHS is being adopted worldwide to improve and harmonise worker and consumer safety and facilitate global trade.

Some of the differences you may have already seen:

  • Classification criteria and classification methods are different for some types of hazard, so some chemical products may be classified more or less severely;
  • New hazard pictograms will replace danger symbols on labels;
  • New wording in hazard (H) and precautionary (P) statements will replace risk (R) and safety (S) phrases;
  • Classifications for both the CLP and the previous legislationon SDS, and label information moved from Section 15 to Section 2 of the SDS.

Other changes to SDS are also being made as a result of the REACH (registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemical substances) regulation. You should look out for these changes, make sure you understand the new information and comply with any new safety instructions.

Key points

  • Look out for the new labels and safety data sheets.
  • Train employees to understand and recognise the new label information.
  • Check that your use of the substance or mixture is covered on the SDS and is not advised against.
  • Follow the advice provided on the new labels and in safety data sheets.
  • Check whether the classification has changed.
  • Evaluate the risks to workers and update your workplace risk assessments if necessary.
  • If you are an employer, communicate these changes to your employees.
  • If you have any questions about the new label or safety data sheet, speak to your supplier.

For more information and detailed guidance visit The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) website - http://echa.europa.eu. or download our handy poster