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CLP – Classification, Labelling and Packaging of substances and mixtures

The CLP (classification, labelling and packaging) Regulation (CE) 1272/2008 aligns previous EU legislation with the GHS (Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals), a United Nations system to identify hazardous chemicals and to inform users about these hazards. It also has links to the REACH legislation

GHS has been adopted by many countries around the world and is now also used as the basis for international and national transport regulations for dangerous goods.

The hazards of chemicals are communicated through standard statements and pictograms on labels and safety data sheets.

New terms have replaced old ones:

  • mixtures for preparations
  • hazardous for dangerous
  • pictograms for symbols
  • hazard statements for risk phrases
  • precautionary statements for safety phrases
  • signal Words (e.g. Danger, Warning) replace the Indications of Danger

New red-framed pictograms gradually replace the familiar orange danger symbols

Download our poster and leaflet on The hazard pictograms explained

Watch Napo in .... Danger: Chemicals!

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In most of the cases, suppliers need to decide on the classification of a substance or mixture. This is called self-classification.

In some cases, the decision on the classification of a chemical is taken at Community level to ensure an adequate risk management. These are usually the most hazardous substances:  carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic for reproduction or respiratory sensitisers, biocidal or plant protection products. All previously harmonised substances classifications under the previous legislation (Dangerous Substances Directive) have been converted into CLP harmonised classifications. It is mandatory for the suppliers to apply this harmonised classification and labelling.

Key points

  • Look out for new labels and safety data sheets (SDS)
  • Train workers to understand and recognise the new label information
  • Check that your use of the substance or mixture is covered on the SDS and is not advised against
  • Follow the advice provided on the new labels and in safety data sheets
  • Check whether the classification has changed
  • Evaluate the risks to workers and update your workplace risk assessments if necessary
  • If you are an employer, communicate these changes to your workers
  • If you have any questions about the new label or safety data sheet, speak to your supplier

Source: DG Employment


Suppliers must label a substance or mixture contained in packaging according to CLP before placing it on the market either when:

  • A substance is classified as hazardous
  • A mixture contains one or more substances classified as hazardous above a certain threshold

OSH wiki article on Labelling of chemicals

When will the regulation fully apply?

The CLP Regulation entered into force on 20 January 2009 and will progressively replace the classification and labelling of Dangerous Substances (67/548/EEC) and Dangerous Preparations (1999/45/EC) Directives. Both Directives will be repealed on 1 June 2015.

Key dates:

  • 1 December 2010, when substances must be reclassified
  • 1 December 2012 when substances already on the market must be labelled in line with the CLP Regulation
  • From 1 June 2015 mixtures (formerly called preparations) must be classified according to CLP
  • 1 June 2017 when re-labelling and re-packaging of products already on the market has to be done

Classification and Labelling Inventory

The Classification & Labelling (C&L) Inventory is a database with basic classification and labelling information on notified and registered substances received from manufacturers and importers. It also contains the list of legally binding harmonised classifications (Annex VI to the CLP Regulation). It is established and maintained by ECHA.

Member States, manufacturers, importers and downstream users may propose the classification and labelling of a substance to be harmonised across the European Union. Information will also be made available in the inventory. CLP has close links to the REACH regulation.

Further information