Changes to Labelling of Hazardous Materials

In 2009, the EU entered into a new Regulation for the classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) of hazardous materials. The CLP Regulation was introduced as a way of globally harmonising hazardous material labelling, and the date with which it will be fully implemented is fast approaching (June 2015). This method of classifying and labelling chemicals is based on the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System (GHS), and is not wildly different from the previous regime. However, there are a few important changes to take note of.

The new Regulation will result in changes to the information which is communicated to users of chemicals on labels and in safety data sheets. If you supply chemicals it’s very important that you understand your legal responsibilities.

From 1 June 2015, CLP will be directly applied on all EU member states, including the UK. This means that from this date, the new chemical classification law must be followed. (Up until this point the old and the new were able to run side by side.)

Many chemical users and consumers will be very familiar with the orange and black hazard symbols from the old system:

These labels are being replaced:

old hazard symbols

They will be replaced with these labels:

new hazard sybols

You will notice that the pictograms are very similar, but the symbols and hazard statements are slightly different. In addition, there are also three new symbols to take into account:


The Harmful symbol has been replaced by this:

hazard old and new


This pictogram reflects serious longer-term health hazards such as carcinogenicity and respiratory sensitisation.

carcinogen hazard




This pictogram means “Contains gas under pressure”

gas under pressure







The CLP Regulation has also introduced two new signal words: ‘Danger’ and ‘Warning’. If the chemical has a more severe hazard, the label includes the signal word ‘Danger’; in case of less severe hazards, the signal word is ‘Warning’.

What Do You Need To Do?

That depends on your role in the supply chain. If you make chemicals then you must classify, label and package substances and mixtures according to CLP, before placing them on the market. In addition, you need to notify the CLP classifications of your substances to the Classification and Labelling Inventory established at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). If you distribute or store chemicals your duties may be more limited than those of manufacturers, importers, and downstream users.

Need Further Help?

The European Commission (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) has published guidance aimed at helping employers and workers to manage the transition to the CLP labelling and packaging system. The guidance is available as a booklet or in a shorter leaflet. Both are available from the European Union: Leaflet: Chemical labels are changing – How will this affect you?  and Guidance booklet: Chemicals at work – a new labelling system. Alternatively, please call us on +44 (0) 118 929 9920 and we will be more than happy to offer advice.

To find out how our team of qualified experts can provide the health and safety advice you need, call us today on 0118 929 9920 or email

Disclaimer: this article is provided by way of general guidance only. Where specific legal or professional advice is required relating to a particular premises, activity etc you should contact us for tailored advice. While we aim for it to be as up to date as possible, this article in not intended to cover all policies and legal initiatives.

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