Because there is a global trade in chemicals, and to improve the levels of protection for workers and the environment across the world, the UN decided to set up a globally harmonised system (GHS) of classification and labelling that would provide:
All EU Member States signed up to the recommendations of the 2002 UN World Summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg, which included the implementation plan to have the GHS operational on a global scale in 2008. As the classification and labelling of chemicals is already regulated at European level rather than the national level, the Member States called on the European Commission to come forward with a proposal to implement the GHS in the EU.
The European Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (known as the ‘CLP’ Regulation) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 31 December 2008, and entered into force on 20 January 2009. It is directly acting in all EU Member States and requires no national transposition.
However, the requirements do not become mandatory until 1 December 2010 for substances, and 1 June 2015 for mixtures. This transitional period is intended to help suppliers and users of chemicals change from the current EU classification and labelling system to the new GHS-based system.
In Great Britain adjustments were made to the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations (known as CHIP or CHIP 4) to introduce enforcement provisions for the CLP Regulation and to ensure that domestic law keeps up to date with the changes at EU level during the transitional period. CHIP 4 entered into force in Great Britain on 6 April 2009. Northern Ireland has similar regulations which entered into force on 27 July 2009.
The first Adaptation to Technical Progress (ATP) to the CLP Regulation introduces into the Regulation the amendments made to the EU harmonised list of substance classifications. The 1st ATP, published on 5 September 2009 as European Commission Regulation (EC) No 790/2009, incorporated all the substances originally listed in the 30th and 31st ATPs to the Dangerous Substances Directive (67/548/EEC). Chemical suppliers should comply with the new or revised classifications from 1 December 2010 although they can, if they choose, apply the new or revised classifications before that date).