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26th June 2015

New CLP classification, labelling and packaging of cleaning and chemical products

Do you understand the new CLP labelling?

You may have noticed changes on the labelling of cleaning and other chemical products recently. Pick up any cleaning product and it may have the symbol for ‘Irritant’ or ‘Harmful’ on the container, or an aerosol furniture spray may have the ‘Flammable’ symbol.

Some of the risks and safety phrases you may be familiar with, seen on the back of cleaning and other chemical products were:

  • Very toxic to aquatic organisms
  • Toxic by inhalation and if swallowed
  • Keep locked up and out of reach of children

This has now changed due to new regulations, applied from the 1st June 2015. The CLP Regulation came into force across all EU member states – including the UK – on 20 January 2009. The classification rules have changed and a new set of hazard pictograms are now in use. The new pictograms (symbols), show similar images, slightly differing in shape and colour and there are a couple of new pictograms now in place which include serious longer term health hazards such as carcinogenicity and respiratory sensitisation.

The Dangerous Substances Directive and the Dangerous Preparations Directive are replaced by the direct-acting European CLP Regulation. From 1st June 2015 the Chemicals Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply (CHIP) Regulations was replaced by the European CLP Regulation, and CHIP revoked from 1st June 2015.

Hazard statements, precautionary statements and signal words

Hazard statements

A hazard statement is a phrase that describes the nature of the hazard in the substance or mixture.

Examples of hazard statements include:

  • Causes serious eye damage
  • Toxic if swallowed
  • Toxic to the aquatic life with long lasting effects
  • May cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled
  • It replaces the ‘risk or R-phrase’ used in CHIP

Precautionary statements

A precautionary statement is a phrase that describes recommended measure(s) to minimise or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposure to a hazardous substance or mixture due to its use or disposal.

Examples of precautionary statements include:

  • Wear eye protection
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke when using this product
  • Avoid release to the environment

Signal words

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’.

Transitional period

There are transitional arrangements in place to help suppliers make the move to the CLP system. From 1st June 2015, chemical suppliers must comply with the CLP Regulation, affecting the workplace in the following ways:

  • Most industrial chemicals are covered by the CLP Regulation. Some chemicals that have a more specialised job are covered by more specific legislation
  • The cleaning products and other products purchased will have new symbols
  • The safety data sheets will change to incorporate the new symbols where necessary

Chemicals not covered by CLP

The CLP Regulation does not apply to the following chemicals:

  • Radioactive substances and mixtures
  • Substances and mixtures subject to customs supervision
  • Non-isolated intermediaries
  • Substances and mixtures for scientific research and development which are not placed on the market and are only used in controlled conditions
  • Waste

The CLP Regulation does not apply to the following chemicals which are in the finished state intended for the final user:

  • Medicines
  • Medical devices
  • Veterinary medicines
  • Cosmetics
  • Food
  • Feeding stuffs (e.g. food additive; food flavouring; feeding stuffs used in animal nutrition)

Recommended actions to take in the workplace

  • Where possible use products that are non-hazardous. There are cleaning products that can be purchased that are non-hazardous to the workplace
  • Ensure all staff are given the new information on changes and how it will affect their workplace through a COSHH awareness training
  • Ensure material safety data sheets are obtained on all cleaning and other hazardous products used in your workplace. A SDS will contain the information necessary to allow employers to do a risk assessment as required by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). The SDS itself is not an assessment, however it will describe the hazards to assess the probability of those hazards arising in the workplace
  • Review the COSHH risk assessment form to ensure the correct pictograms are used and the correct risk and safety phrases are used
  • Review the COSHH risk assessment procedure and communicate any changes to personnel
  • Ensure that the cleaners who are contractors have reviewed their documentation and understand the changes

QCS Heath & Safety policies

QCS have guidance and policies to support your service in meeting the requirements of health and safety.

Sally Beck RGN, BSc (Hons), MSc, CMIOSH – QCS Expert Health and Safety Contributor


*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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