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Communication on dangerous products is becoming increasingly important

More and more products are being classified in a higher hazard category. On the one hand, this is due to stricter criteria applying in the CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging of dangerous substances and mixtures) regulation; on the other hand because there is a tendency to place on the market more concentrated products. The latter is the result of a growing awareness regarding the environment whereby, for instance, preference is given to smaller packaging involving less transport.

The CLP labels are already well established in the industry, with 93% of essenscia members having made the switch to CLP. There is still a transition period until June 2017 for consumer products, meaning both hazard communication systems will be visible. More information on this is available on www.gevaarsymbolen.be  or www.symbolesdanger.be .

Nevertheless, products labelled ‘hazardous’ can still be used safely, provided the correct precautionary measures are applied. This is why carefully reading the label is important. The website www.gevaarsymbolen.be summarises this effectively:  ‘recognising symbols can save lives’. This awareness-raising campaign by the government is also supported by essenscia.

The detergents sector has also undertaken several initiatives to help consumers take the correct precautionary measures, so that detergents can be used safely, for which it developed Safe Use Icons. These symbols visualise the measures you have to take to use these products safely.
Because all of this entails considerable changes, essenscia is supporting its members through:

  • a CLP manual offering a summary of the different classification criteria;
  • an annual five-day CLP course with the support of various experts collaborate. More than 220 employees from 97 companies have already taken part in this.

As a result of the altered criteria and stricter classification of products, a great deal of legislation – including VLAREM (Flemish Regulation concerning Environmental Permits) – was amended. The new frame of reference has a clear impact on the sector, with one third of members stating that certain matters are changing in relation to storage and the environmental permit.

Sector initiatives

Chemical companies and national Poison Centres working together on prevention

Each time a chemical product is brought onto the market, the chemical companies notify the Belgian Poison Centre of its hazardous characteristics. They do this at the latest 48 hours before the product reaches the market. This is a legal obligation that applies to hazardous mixtures, pesticides, biocides and cosmetics.

Why do they do this? Because – despite the warnings on the label – incidents involving chemical products still continue to occur both at home and in the workplace. For this reason, it is essential that the correct information passes quickly from the chemical sector to the Belgian Poison Centre. In 2014, there were 5.639 notifications from 358 companies.

The European Commission wishes to harmonise this type of data passing between the different national poison centres, in order to align it internationally. The chemical industry favours working with a central notification system. This notification would take place online, and would be passed on automatically to the relevant national poison centres. As a matter of fact, the composition of cosmetic products are already been notified at European level since 11 July 2013.

The Belgian Poison Centre is available by telephone 24 hours a day, on the free number 070 245 245. Around half of the calls which they receive relate to medicines. 28% relate to chemical products,
5% to cosmetics and 4% to plants.

One third of the calls involve a child aged from 1 to 4 years. This is the age at which children start to explore their environment, and may ingest and swallow hazardous products within their reach. Calls involving adults mostly concern situations in which they accidentally ingest or inhale a hazardous product. 42% of these ‘accidents’ are caused by inhalation or splashes on the skin or the eyes. 50% of the calls relate to the swallowing of a hazardous substance, which was transferred into an unlabelled bottle or glass. So always keep products out of the reach of children, even during use, and protect yourself with gloves and/or safety goggles.

More information about the Belgian Poisons Centre can be found at www.antigifcentrum.be.

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Working safely with plant protection products

Working safely with plant protection products

As usual Phytofar, the Belgian Federation of the phytopharmaceutical industry, has developed in 2015 a communication campagn for sustainablee agriculture and a sensible use of plant production products.

To raise the awareness of professional users of plant protection products on the new safety pictograms on the packaging, Phytofar have provided them for free a poster and a booklet when they brought their empty packaging to an Agri Recover pick up point.

  • The poster “Working safely with plant protection products” contains information on the new CLP pictograms, the use of the right protection clothing and the emergency numbers. The poster which also calls for a proper reading of the labels, can be used in the phytoroom.
  • The booklet “New CLP classification” also contains besides the new CLP pictograms, all the safety and precautionary statements. (H, P and EUH). It gives a convenient overview for the agricultural and horticultural farmers to quickly look up the exact meaning of the phrases on the new CLP labels.

The new pictogram and statements were developed in the framework of the CLP legislation (Classification, Labelling and Packaging) to better communicate the hazards and the precautionary measures for chemicals to the users. This European legislation implements an international system developed by the United Nations.

The new white and red CLP-pictograms will gradually replace the also orange symbols on the labels of plant protection products. As of the 1st of June 2017 only products with new pictograms will be available.

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