Chemical Hazard Labelling: Our Comprehensive Guide
Understanding who is responsible for labelling a package of hazardous material is essential when dealing with products containing hazardous substances or mixtures. If you are involved in packaging for shipping, delivery, and storage, it’s crucial to ensure correct labelling and stay informed about legislative changes.
Hazard labels serve two main functions: packaging labels, which guide on handling the package, and hazard labels, which alert about the dangers if mishandled. These might range from general advisories like “Handle with Care” to specific guidelines tailored to the contents. What hazard labels warn us about is the nature of the risks involved in handling such materials.
Legal Responsibilities: Adapting to Changes in COSHH in 2021
Businesses that manufacture, supply, import, or distribute hazardous substances have faced challenges post-Brexit, impacting the required labelling. The COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) legislation has undergone significant changes, affecting what is the purpose of hazard labels. Key areas include:
- The main COSHH Regulations 2002
- The Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation
- The REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation
Since 1st January 2021, the EU’s CLP regulation has been superseded by the GB CLP Regulation in Great Britain. These shifts highlight the evolving nature of chemical hazard labelling requirements.
At Venture, our expertise in creating chemical hazard labels spans various industries, ensuring full compliance with all legislative changes.
Hazardous Substances in the Workplace
Many industrial workplaces contain potentially harmful substances, including paints, solvents, and biological agents. This reality underscores why we need packaging and labelling of hazardous substances – to prevent chronic health issues like asthma and dermatitis, prevalent among UK workers due to exposure in their work environments. Beyond personal health, this also impacts industries economically through higher sickness absence and reduced productivity.
Common Chemical Hazard Labels and New Labelling Rules
1. Labelling Toxic Gas
Toxic gas labels are crucial in indicating the presence of gases that can be lethal. These labels are typically marked with distinct symbols that show the danger of inhalation or exposure.
The new labelling rules require these labels to be more prominent and include specific information about the type of toxic gas, its concentration levels, and emergency contact information. This enhancement in labelling standards ensures that handlers are well-informed of the potential risks and necessary precautions.
2. The Role of Highly Flammable Labels
Highly flammable labels are applied to substances that can ignite quickly and with ease. The new rules mandate that these labels must be visually striking, often using bright colours and bold lettering to catch the eye immediately. Additionally, they must specify the flashpoint of the substance, or the lowest temperature at which it can vaporise to form an ignitable mixture in air.
This information is crucial for safe handling and storage, particularly in environments where temperature control is critical.
3. Non-Flammable Gas Labelling
Non-flammable gas labels indicate gases that, while not combustible, may pose other risks such as pressure or asphyxiation hazards. The updated labelling rules require these labels to include additional hazard symbols if the gas is stored under high pressure or if it displaces oxygen in the air, which can lead to asphyxiation.
These labels also often include storage and handling instructions specific to the gas’s properties, like temperature and pressure considerations.
4. Corrosive Material Labels
Corrosive material labels are used for substances that can cause severe damage to skin, metal, or other materials. The latest regulations require these labels to include detailed information about the nature of the corrosive substance, including its pH level and the materials it can corrode.
This is particularly important for ensuring that these substances are stored in appropriate containers and that handlers use suitable protective equipment.
5. Miscellaneous Labels for Other Hazards
When goods don’t fall into a specific hazard category, miscellaneous labels are used. These labels have become more detailed under the new rules, often requiring a brief description of the hazard and specific handling instructions.
This may include temperature controls, avoidance of certain materials, or specific first-aid measures in case of exposure.
The importance of accurately labelling hazardous materials cannot be overstated. Each label category – toxic gases, highly flammable substances, non-flammable gases, corrosives, and miscellaneous hazards – serves a critical function in ensuring safe handling and storage. The recent updates to labelling rules across these categories reflect a growing emphasis on detailed hazard communication and safety. These changes are not only a legal requirement but are essential for protecting workers, the environment, and the public from the potential dangers posed by these substances.