Safety signs must be used at all workplaces where hazards cannot be avoided or adequately reduced. This requirement comes under the scope of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007.

During 2016, some sections of this regulation, relating to the workplace signs, were updated to take account of changes required as a result of the EU Regulation on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, known as CLP.  Subsequently, the guide to the regulation on ‘Safety Signs at Places of Work’ was updated to reflect these changes.

This update replaced legal references to the previous classification and labelling regime with those in CLP and made changes to some of the terminology, such as replacing the word ‘preparation’ with ‘mixture’. In practice only two workplace signs were impacted by this change.

The yellow triangular warning sign, depicting a St. Andrew’s cross, previously used for irritant and harmful chemicals, was deleted, while a footnote was added to the existing general danger warning sign to clarify that it should only be used for stores of hazardous substances and mixtures and not those chemicals assigned the ‘exclamation mark’ symbol (GHS 07).

Such workplace chemicals removed from their original supply container or produced in-house do not come under the scope of CLP itself, as they are not placed on the market but they do come under the remit of the Chemical Agent Regulations, where there is a duty to undertake a risk assessment.

 Once the hazards of the chemical are determined, e.g. from the supplier label or from the safety data sheet, or if diluted from theCLP classification criteria, and then based on the results of the risk assessment, it needs to be decided if a workplace warning sign is required e.g. on the tank or pipework.

This will ensure that the appropriate safety measures are put in place to protect employees using the chemicals.

This is where the workplace warning signs may be applied. For example, where there is a risk from a corrosive chemical, the hazard label for corrosive can be used.

Therefore, the CLP diamond with a red border pictogram, or the transport (ADR) diamond with a red background, can be placed on the workplace tank, pipework etc. Alternatively, the workplace sign for corrosive ,the yellow triangle, can be applied depending on practicalities, such as the size of the tank.  

Further information

22 February 2017