The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is the driving force among regulatory authorities in implementing the EU’s groundbreaking chemicals legislation for the benefit of human health and the environment as well as for innovation and competitiveness. The ECHA helps companies to comply with the legislation, advances the safe use of chemicals, provides information on chemicals and addresses chemicals of concern.
The classification, labelling and packaging of hazardous chemicals in the EU is based on a worldwide agreed system. It facilitates international trade and ensures consistent communication of chemical hazards leading to better health, safety and care for the environment. Complying with a single set of rules worldwide builds public trust in the safe use of chemicals.
When a company supplies hazardous chemicals within the EU, it has the obligation to label them in accordance with the Classification Packaging and Labelling (CLP) Regulation. The requirements of the CLP Regulation ensure that the hazards presented by chemicals are clearly communicated to workers and consumers in the EU through appropriate classification and labelling.
The chemical label needs to show the chemical’s name and product identifier, the suppliers’ name, address and phone number, the quantity of chemicals in the package, hazard pictograms, signal words, hazard and precautionary statements.
When chemicals meet the criteria for classification as hazardous, the supplier must label them. When doing so, the supplier needs to consider all hazard classes and differentiations and decide on the appropriate classification for physical, health or environmental hazards. After making this decision, the supplier must select the correct labelling elements.
The CLP Regulation has introduced a new classification and labelling system for hazardous chemicals in the EU. Featured above are the new pictograms in the shape of a red diamond with a white background.
Certain substances have a mandatory harmonised classification and labelling (C&L) to ensure that risks are appropriately managed. The list of hazardous substances for which a harmonised C&L exists is continuously updated.
If a company places a hazardous substance on the market, it is obliged to notify ECHA of its classification and labelling within one month. For importers, the month is counted from the day when a substance, on its own or contained in a mixture, is physically brought into the EU.
For further information for the classification and labelling of chemicals, visit https://echa. europa.eu/en/regulations.
Odette Vella is director, Information, Education and Research Directorate, Office for Consumer Affairs, Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority.
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