Although the regulations have been in place for years, enforcement of the EC1272/2008 regulations on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (known as CLP) have not been enforced up until now, and companies like us have generally kept to the UN Globally Harmonised System (GHS), which is a similar, voluntary scheme.
The point of all this, from our perspective, is to have an agreed standard for symbols denoting the risks and harms from any given cleaning material, so the news that CLP has been updated to adopt many of the symbols used in GHS and that enforcement will commence this year, is good news.
Of course, the adoption of an international standard like this means that the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations will be updated in our manuals, and some chemicals will be reclassified, which will mean a change in the materials available to us.
However, by moving onto the new CLP labelling and storage regulations, having a single set of agreed symbols and pictograms will make training employees a good deal easier, especially if their English skills are limited.
Very often, regulations can add up to a lot of red tape, and it’s easy to forget the purposes behind them, especially when enforcement requires you to reissue training manuals and remove cleaning materials from stock– but in this case I think that a single, agreed-upon set of unambiguous warning symbols for different hazards is of real benefit to the safety of our cleaning staff, and the workforces in all the premises we clean.