Understanding the CLP Regulations

Placed into effect in January 2009, the CLP (classification, labelling and packaging) Regulation replaced both the Dangerous Preparations Directive and the Dangerous Substances Directives. As a means of labelling and classifying chemicals, the CLP Regulation ensures the clear communication of the hazards of particular chemicals to both consumers and workers.

What the CLP Regulation Requires of the Chemical Industry

Prior to placing any chemical mixtures or substances on the market, the potential risks to the environment and human health must first have been established. All substances and mixtures must then be classified according to the hazards that have been identified. This is done via a standardised system which helps individuals understand the risks and potential health effects before these products are handled.

The communication of these hazards occurs via the use of pictograms and standard statements. However, there is a change in the way these pictograms look. Previously, pictograms were square in shape and had an amber background with black images. Current pictograms are in a diamond shape, having a red border and white background, and black images.

Research and Development not Affected

In many cases, the CLP does not apply to R&D activities. For example, any R&D activities involving those mixtures and substances used for scientific R&D that are not going to market and being used under controlled conditions do not fall under the regulations. However, these activities must also be carried out in accordance with environmental as well as community workplace legislation.

The “not going to market” caveat ensures that those companies who are in the business of selling chemicals to research facilities are also covered by the legislation.

Statement Types

There are statement types which can be included on the CLP label: these are the hazard and precautionary statement and the signal word.

The hazard statement lets the user know the immediate effect of misusing the product. “Corrosive to skin” is one potential example. Where the goal is to provide information about what preventative measures can be taken to avoid injury, the precautionary statement is used. An example of this might be “Wear gloves when handling”. Signal words alert the user to hazards in terms of severity, such as “Caution” or “Danger”.

Rules for Labelling

The rules surrounding the labelling of hazardous mixtures and substances apply on both general and specific levels. Generally speaking, health security labels must be firmly affixed to the surface or surfaces of the packaging which contains the mixture or substance. These labels must be able to be read horizontally when the package is placed in a normal position.

More specifically, the pictograms used in the labelling must stand out clearly from the background of the packaging. They must also be able to be easily read. All labels must contain the same elements. They must clearly display the name and address of the supplier, as well as include the nominal quantity of chemical if the product is being made publicly available.

Where applicable, clear hazard statements must be present, as must a relevant signal word when and if appropriate. There must also be a section for supplemental information, as well as precautionary statements, product identifiers and hazard pictograms.

Printing CLP Labels

The pictograms can be downloaded for printing at no cost. There are no specific colour requirements for printing. There are options with regard to the way in which some images can be displayed, however. For example, the border line, number and symbol can be shown in black instead of white on some security labels, and white instead of black on others.

Information that should be Avoided

When considering the phrases and words for a hazard label, there are some which are best avoided, specifically, those which may cause the user to underestimate or be misled by the hazards the label presents. Manufacturers should avoid the use of statements that declare a product to have certain benefits, such as being ecological or non-polluting. These types of statements are inconsistent with the substance or mixture. Trade and product names should also be avoided on CLP labels if the name includes any of the aforementioned phrases.