Understanding CLP

The CLP Regulation ensures that the hazards presented by chemicals are clearly communicated to workers and consumers in the European Union through classification and labelling of chemicals.

Before placing chemicals on the market, the industry must establish the potential risks to human health and the environment of such substances and mixtures, classifying them in line with the identified hazards. The hazardous chemicals also have to be labelled according to a standardised system so that workers and consumers know about their effects before they handle them.

Thanks to this process, the hazards of chemicals are communicated through standard statements and pictograms on labels and safety data sheets. For example, when a supplier identifies a substance as "acute toxicity category 1 (oral)", the labelling will include the hazard statement "fatal if swallowed", the word "Danger" and a pictogram with a skull and crossbones.

CLP stands for Classification, Labelling and Packaging. The CLP Regulation entered into force in January 2009, and the method of classifying and labelling chemicals it introduced is based on the United Nations' Globally Harmonised System (GHS).

The Regulation replaces over time two previous pieces of legislation, the Dangerous Substances Directive and the Dangerous Preparations Directive. There is a transition period until 2015.