Packaging symbols: Do you know what they actually stand for?
Part 2: Caution - danger of death!
Products that contain toxic, corrosive or flammable substances must be labelled accordingly on the packaging for the protection of users. However, the laws specifying how to identify and designate hazardous substances differ from country to country. A product considered toxic in one country, can be labelled as non-toxic in another.
Nine GHS pictograms featuring numbers and signal words refer to the respective danger this packaged product represents. Pictograms: www.reach-compliance.ch
In the wake of these summits the United Nations developed the so-called Globally Harmonized System of Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Chemicals’ (GHS). It serves to identify hazardous chemicals and draw users’ attention to the associated danger in an easy to understand and non-language-dependent way. The system has been adopted by many countries around the globe and is also considered the basis for provisions governing the transportation of dangerous goods on a global scale.
In Europe two regulations govern chemicals: one the one hand REACH. This is considered one of the strictest chemicals acts worldwide. The abbreviation stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. Manufacturers, importers and downstream users of chemicals have had to guarantee that these substances are safely handled in compliance with this European Chemicals Regulation since 2007.
The second valid piece of legislation is the CLP Regulation. This has been in force since 2009 and governs the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures. This regulation created a new Europe-wide system for classifying, labelling and packaging substances and mixtures. 2015 saw its legal provisions being adapted to the GHS.
The dangers emanating from these chemicals are described by means of signal words and pictograms on product labels and in safety data sheets. Originally, orange-coloured danger symbols were used, but since 2010 the new pictograms framed in red have applied to chemical substances and since 2015 to varnishes and paints.