Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Classifying and labelling chemicals

Classify and label your chemical compounds

The CLP Regulations (Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Hazardous Substances and Mixtures Regulations) regulate how chemicals should be classified, labelled and packaged.

If you manufacture or supply chemical substances, products or mixtures you must classify and label them according to CLP before you put them on the market.

Certain products, for example medicines, food and cosmetics, are exempt.

What you must do

Classify your chemicals

You must determine whether the chemicals or chemical products, for example paints or inks, you manufacture or supply are hazardous. This process is known as classification.

You must identify what kind of hazards your chemical or product has, including its physical-chemical properties, its effects on human heath and what happens to it in the environment.

Chemical hazards can be classified as:

  • explosive, oxidising, flammable, toxic, harmful, corrosive, irritant
  • dangerous for the environment.

Label your chemicals

If the chemicals or chemical products you manufacture or supply are classified as hazardous you must tell users about the hazards and how they can use the chemical or product safely to help protect themselves and the environment.

You must package and label your chemical or chemical product with appropriate hazard warning labels.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on classifying and labelling chemicals.

HSE: Labelling and packaging chemicals

HSE: Classification of chemicals

How you classify and label your chemicals and chemical products has changed now the EC Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP Regulation) has taken affect. The CLP Regulation introduces the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

You will need to use the new GHS system to classify, label and package :your:

  • substances, including chemical elements (eg arsenic) or compounds (eg acetone) and
  • mixtures or solutions (eg paints or inks).

Notify your chemicals to the European Chemicals Agency

If you are a chemical manufacturer or importer, you may also need to notify the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) if you place a substance on the market by itself or in a mixture. You must notify ECHA through their Classification and Labelling (C&L) inventory of:

  • substances classified as hazardous under CLP and placed on the market, no matter what the amount
  • substances classified as hazardous under CLP and placed on the market in a mixture above concentration limits specified in Annex I of CLP or in Schedule 3 of CHIP, no matter what the amount
  • substances which have to be registered under the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) Regulation.

You must notify the C&L Inventory within one month of placing a substance on the market. You must do this online at the REACH-IT portal on the ECHA website.

You won't have to notify the C&L Inventory if you have already used the new GHS system to provide information to ECHA on a substance's classification as part of a REACH registration.

ECHA has produced guidance, including a questions and answers document, covering the classification, labelling and packaging, and notification of substances and mixtures using the CLP Regulation.

ECHA

For more information about CLP and GHS and how this could affect your business see the HSE guidance.

HSE: GHS guidance
HSE: CLP guidance

HSENI: CLP guidance

Use safety data sheets (SDS)

If you manufacture or supply chemicals or chemical products (as substances or mixtures) which contain hazardous substances, you may need to provide a safety data sheet (SDS) with your products. This must identify the chemical's or chemical product's dangers, what precautionary measures to take and how to deal with emergencies.

Providing a SDS is now a requirement of the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) Regulation. For guidance about when to provide a SDS and what this should include, see the HSE safety data sheet information.

HSE: REACH and safety data sheets (Adobe PDF - 111KB
HSE: Chemical safety data sheets

If you use chemicals or chemical products you must make all staff aware of the SDS for any hazardous substance or mixtures that they handle, store or dispose of. If you receive a chemical without a SDS, contact your supplier to find out whether or not they have to provide one.

Health and safety legislation

If you store hazardous chemicals you must comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations to protect the health of your staff. You must assess the risks, implement measures to control exposure and establish good working practices.

You should keep a copy of the SDS for all the chemicals you use and check to see if the substances are hazardous.

For more information on COSHH, see the HSE website.

HSE: COSHH
HSE: COSHH - A brief guide to the regulations (Adobe PDF - 188KB
HSENI: Guidance pages for COSHH

Further information on classifying and labelling chemicals

European Commission: Classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances and mixtures

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