Gill Pagliuca warns packaging companies to look out for the new regulations
The warning labels for chemical products are changing as new rules to implement a globally harmonised system for labelling chemicals come into force.
The new system is based on the United Nations Globally Harmonised System for Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, known simply as the GHS. The rules for using this system in the EU are set out in the CLP Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008. This regulation is replacing the old system with the familiar orange rectangles which was set out in the UK CHIP Regulations 2009.
As well as the EU, the GHS is also being implemented in many other parts of the world, including the US, Russia, China, and many other countries. Eventually, these new rules will make it much easier for companies to import and export their products around the world, as well as improving safety for travellers, as there will only be one set of pictograms to recognise wherever they go.
The new labels have 6 main elements
1.Product identifier(s): The name of the product and key hazardous components must be given
2. Hazard Pictograms: New red-framed diamonds with a graphic inside. These replace the familiar orange rectangles with graphic
3. Signal Word: Either ‘Danger’ for more hazardous products or ‘Warning’ for less hazardous products. These replace the ‘Indication of Danger’ previously used, such as ‘Flammable’ or ‘Irritant’
4. Hazard (H) and Precautionary (P) Statements: Replace the old Risk (R) and Safety (S) Phrases. In many cases the wording of the new H and P statements is very similar to the old R and S Phrases, although many more P statements may now be included on the label, especially in some other parts of the world implementing the GHS
5. Supplementary Information: Additional compulsory warning phrases required by the CLP Regulation or other legislation
6. Company information: Name, address and telephone number.
The new label requirements pose a number of challenges for those designing labels and packaging. Firstly, labels may need to be larger to fit in all of the required elements, as text does not flow as easily round the new diamond shaped pictograms as around the old rectangular shaped symbols.
Another key change for those packaging hazardous chemicals is the requirement under CLP for the outer packaging of hazardous chemicals, e.g. the shipping boxes, to include information identifying that hazardous chemicals are present inside.
The new labels are being introduced over a period of several years up until 1st June 2017.