Labelling

The label for chemical products contains the most important information for safe product use. It provides information on potential risks, applicable protective measures and what to do in case of an accident.

Information on hazards posed by chemical products (substances and mixtures/preparations) is provided by the product label and in the trade and professional context also by the safety data sheet. This information has been harmonised worldwide in the globally harmonised system for the classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS) of the UNO. The EU transposed this into its law in the CLP Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008, Classification, Labelling, Packaging). Switzerland has extensively harmonised its law with these provisions in order that technical barriers to trade do not occur.

In the internet document “Swiss CLP: Guide to Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Preparations in Switzerland” the implementation in Switzerland is explained in detail and deals thoroughly with the provisions for the classification of chemicals by taking into consideration available resources for the CLP Regulation and points to be given particular attention in Switzerland (for example multilingualism).

The most important elements of a label
The elements of the label presented below concern chemical products that meet the definition for hazardous chemical products pursuant to Article 3 of the Chemicals Ordinance SR 813.11.

Product identifier
For preparations/mixtures the trade names or the designation of the mixture. For substances: Name and identification number (if available use the EC number, otherwise the CAS number). Detailed indications are available in the listed, supporting documents.

Hazard pictograms
The hazard pictograms are an eye-catcher and serve as a rough guide to the hazard type. The hazard pictograms can be downloaded from the UNECE website.
The size of the hazard symbol for packages of up to 3 litres is at least 16x16 mm edge length; this may be reduced at most to 10x10 mm due to limited space, for example for small package sizes typically below 500 mL or g. Pictogram sizes of 10 x 10 mm are actually only intended for container sizes below 125 mL or g.
The hazard pictograms are defined as black symbols on a white background in a red rhomboidal border. Pantone 485C or cmyk: 0/100/100/0 are recommended for the red border.

Signal word
The signal word serves as a rough guide to the severity of the hazard. There are two possible signal words, “Notice” and “Danger”. They are assigned according to the classification.

Hazard statements
The hazard warnings describe the hazards in more detail. The text must appear in full; however, the H-statement number does not need to be indicated on the label. All required hazard warnings must be listed, insofar as no clear duplication exists or they are not explicitly superfluous.

Safety instructions
The safety instructions indicate the measures to be taken for protection and first aid. The texts must also appear in full; however, the P-statement number does not need to be indicated.
If necessary, the required selection shall be made, e.g. for P261 Avoid breathing dust/fumes/gas/mist/vapours/spray, only those terms that are relevant shall be listed. No more than six safety instructions should appear on the label unless the type and the severity of the hazards necessitate a greater number.

Ingredients and other complementary information
Depending on the content and characteristics of certain substances, these must be listed on the label even for preparations/mixtures. Still more indications on the label may also be necessary. Indications for this can be found in the documents Swiss-CLP and the ECHA Guidelines on Labelling and Packaging.

Manufacturer
Products used by the general public must exhibit the names, address and telephone number of the responsible manufacturer in Switzerland. For commercial products this may also be the person responsible for the placement on the market in the EEA.

Languages
As products used by the general public may be marketed throughout Switzerland, the label must be written in at least two official languages. The hazard and safety statements are grouped together according to the language.
Chemical products that are placed on the market under the Cassis de Dijon principle may also be labelled only in the language of the sales region in question. This requires that steps be taken to ensure that no sales occur in other linguistic regions. The sale of such products in officially bilingual municipalities such as Biel/Bienne or Fribourg/Freiburg is not possible.

Text size
Legislative texts require that the labelling elements must be clearly legible and indelible. The Swiss authorities deem that in normal cases this is given by a minimum text size corresponding to Arial 7 for black text on a white background. Other colour combinations may require a larger text size.

Biocidal products, plant protection agents, washing and cleaning agents
Additional requirements, listed in the relevant specific legislation, apply to biocidal products, plant protection agents, washing and cleaning agents.

Documents

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Last modification 18.08.2017

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