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Are Your Chemical Labels Compliant?

Green, all-natural products are continually gaining traction in retail spheres right now, but sometimes, toxic chemicals can still appear in key products. This is especially true of things like cleaning products and electricals, where consumers typically expect some form of toxicity due to a lack of affordable or alternative options as it stands.

Chemical Labels

While sometimes unavoidable, these hazardous ingredients can cause a wide range of setbacks in the retail supply chain, requiring specialist handling from experts who have completed an ADR training course, as well as specialist transportation that’s corrosion-resistant and fully secured. Even once toxic products arrive in your factories, the work is far from over.

Health and safety considerations also need to come into play throughout a factory setting. Beyond that, toxic products require pretty stringent labelling before they’re shelved. This is to ensure that safety continues once your products are out in the world and is a vital legal requirement that any retailer must adhere to. But, what exactly do you need to include on chemical labels to ensure compliance? Keep reading to find out.

Labelling Law

Labelling chemical products correctly is a legal requirement according to regulations outlined in the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). This is true with the use of any hazardous ingredients, regardless of their intended use. Such ingredients should be clearly stated, and any risks explained. There are also different regulations in place depending on the chemicals used. For example, carcinogenic chemicals like titanium dioxide must be labelled as such. A failure to properly label chemicals within your products is an offence that can result in prosecution, heavy fines, and company closure.

What to include?

As mentioned, the specific chemical outlines that you need to include on package labelling will vary depending on the chemicals you use during production. Carcinogens, for instance, must be listed as such, while care instructions for each product and its use will obviously vary.

Generally, however, there are a few key things you should make sure to include on your chemical labels, and they are –

# 1 – A clear, easily understandable picture

Often, consumers will take only a brief glance at your product labels before picking them off the shelf. For this reason, the GB CLP Regulation outlines the need for Globally harmonised System (GHS) pictograms on all toxic product labels.

Pictograms are graphic symbols that communicate essential information regarding hazardous ingredients at a glance. The most common and recognisable GHS pictograms you’ll want to consider include –

  • Flammables
  • Burn risks
  • Explosives
  • Oxidisers
  • Acutely toxic
  • Carcinogen
  • And more

# 2 – A detailed description

Chemical descriptions are equally vital for ensuring that consumers use your products safely and understand any risks. However, it’s important to remember that you need to keep chemical labels simple and concise for everyday users.

Regulations state that you should include a few different description elements on any chemical label, which include –

  1. Product identifier: A product identifier should clearly outline hazardous ingredients on any chemical label, as this ensures full awareness of what your products contain, and could prove invaluable in the event of an emergency. A product identifier should appear early in your label and must include every toxic chemical used.
  2. Signal Word: A signal word is a word that’s used to specify the severity and risk of the chemicals included in your products. Like a pictogram, a signal word should be concise and easy for users to spot at a glance. Signal words will typically be words such as danger, warning, or toxic. You should only include one signal word on a chemical label regardless of how many chemicals your products contain. Signal words should be bolded to ensure they’re easily seen.
  3. Hazard statement: A hazard statement is a simple statement, or series of statements, that outlines the severity and degree of hazard involved within your product ingredients, largely by outlining notable risks. Common hazard statements may include ‘Causes serious eye irritation’ or ‘May cause skin irritation’. These phrases should then act as guidance to users, outlining things they should avoid, such as using your product without protective gloves.
  4. Precautionary statement: Precautionary statements suggest actions that will minimise adverse effects if users come into contact with the chemicals in your product. Precautionary statements can refer to four different things, which are response, prevention, storage, and disposal. Common precautionary statements may include ‘wear eye protection and rinse eyes thoroughly in case of contact’ or ‘dispose of contents according to local regulations’.
  5. Supplemental information: Some chemical labels may require supplemental information, which might include chemical-specific regulations, unique formulas, or a breakdown of substances with unknown toxicity.

# 3 – Contact details

It’s vital to include contact details on a chemical label, specifically those of the chemical supplier in case of emergencies. You should also include contact details for any other responsible party, to ensure that consumers are always able to quickly contact the correct people where necessary. When including contact details, be sure to outline who’s details they are, as well as a full address and phone number.

The Importance of Chemical Label Compliance

Chemical label compliance is important because it keeps you on the right side of the law. Even if accidents happen with your products, clear, concise, and consistent chemical labelling that includes all of the requirements listed can prevent things like fines or prosecution.

Outside of legal matters, compliant chemical labels are also vital for consumers who put their trust in your products. While it’s hard to differentiate by using labels that are a legal industry standard, doing so is still key to reputation management, and avoiding fallouts like those currently experienced by brands such as Schweppes and Nordic Naturals in America after over 30 sodas were recalled due to undeclared harmful chemicals.

Brands have a pressing responsibility to keep their consumers safe, informed, and aware of everything within their products. This is never more true than when chemicals are in use. So, get up to date on chemical label compliance today, and make sure that there are never any hazardous skeletons waiting in your business closet.