The adoption of CLP labelling rules (EC No 1272/2008) is part of a global effort at United Nations level to harmonise chemical labelling for all countries – commonly referred to as the “Globally Harmonised System” or GHS. Part of this is the adoption of common chemical label hazard symbols. With a common set of symbols, this should reduce any source of confusion and make for safer handling of chemicals and hazardous materials.
The CLP regulations follow a common approach to chemical labelling throughout the otherwise disparate chemical labelling regulations that were present across the many nations of the planet.
Chemical Label Hazard Symbols represent three key threats or risks associated with chemicals:
- Physical Risks
- Health Risks
- Environmental Risks
The GHS hazard symbols all consist of a symmetrical diamond (square at 45o) consisting of a red border with a white interior. The border colour is not regulated but as a general rule, bright red (Pantone 032 Red) is the most accepted colour to use.
The interior of a chemical label hazard symbol always contains a black hazard symbol – it is recommended that blank pre-printed hazard devices are over printed with black to avoid confusion.
Chemical Label Hazard Symbols
These warning symbols represent the physical, health and environmental risks presented by a chemical or chemical mixture.
Explosive: May explode if subjected to heat, ignition source, friction or shock. Avoid ignition sources, keep your distance, ear protective clothing.
Flammable: Flammable if subjected to heat, ignition source or flame. Avoid ignition sources, keep your distance, ear protective clothing.
Flammable Oxidiser: Flammable with or without air (oxygen) and can intesify fire with other combustible materials. Avoid ignition sources, keep your distance, ear protective clothing.
Compressed Gas: Contains compressed gas. Gas may be very cold when released and container may explode if heated. Do not heat, avoid contact with skin or eyes.
Corrosive Material: Corrosive material that may cause skin burns or permanent eye damage. Avoid contact with skin and eyes, do not breathe vapours or aerosols and always wear protective clothing. May react aggressively with metals – keep away from metals.
Toxic: Toxic chemical may cause life threatening effects even in small amounts and with short exposure. Do not allow substance to come into contact with skin, eyes – do notingest or breathe vapours.
Long Term Health Risk: May cause long term irreversible health effects even with short exposure. Do not breathe, ingest or allow to come into contact with skin or eyes.
Environmental Toxin: May cause short or long lasting effects on wildlife and environment. Toxic to plant and aquatice life. Do not release into the environment.
Irritant: May cause irritation, rash or short term ill health (low toxicity). Do not breathe, ingest or allow to come into contact with skin or eyes. May cause damage to the ozone layer. Do not release into the environment.