At the moment there are two parallel legislative frameworks in place for chemicals classification, labelling and packaging. The classification and labelling regulations in accordance with the Dangerous Substances Directive (67/548/EEC) and the Dangerous Preparations Directive (1999/45/EC), which are implemented in Finland under the Chemicals Act (744/1989), the Chemicals Decree (675/1993) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Decree on chemical classification principles and labelling (807/2001), are still in force (the "old" system being replaced). The EU's new Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, the CLP Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008, entered into force on 20 January 2009 and is directly in force in all EU Member States. The old legislation will remain in force during the transitional periods set, which entrepreneurs should take into consideration when selecting the system used to classify, label and package chemicals.
Under the Finnish Chemicals Decree, the manufacturer, importer, distributor or other entrepreneur responsible for placing a chemical substance or preparation on the market must classify the chemical under groups reflecting the level of danger and label the packaging in accordance with the Decree. The classification may be based on the chemical posing a danger of fire or explosion, a danger to health or a danger to the environment.
The EU's new CLP Regulation governs the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures and certain articles that contain dangerous substances. Substances or mixtures are regarded as dangerous if they meet the criteria set in Annex I to the CLP Regulation relating to physical hazards, health hazards and environmental hazards. Substances and mixtures classified as dangerous must labelled and packaged in accordance with the CLP Regulation.
The most visible difference from the old legislation is that the CLP Regulation introduces new hazard pictograms and the signal words 'Danger' and 'Warning' to be used in hazard labelling. The R- and S-phrases have been replaced by hazard statements (H-phrases) and precautionary statements (P-phrases): There are also more hazard classes and categories and the classification criteria and limit values differ to some extent from the old criteria.
Responsibility for the identification of hazards of substances and mixtures and for deciding on their classification lies mainly with manufacturers, importers and downstream users of those substances or mixtures. They must classify substances and mixtures placed on the market, which the supplier must then label and package. Manufacturers, producers of articles and importers must also classify substances not placed on the market that are subject to registration or notification to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) under the REACH Regulation.
If a substance is included in the harmonised classification and labelling list, it must be classified accordingly. Operators responsible for classification must classify a substance included in the list by themselves if the substance is not in the list or if the list does not cover all hazard classes or differentiations within the hazard class. The list of harmonised classification and labelling of hazardous substances can be found in Table 3.1 (under the CLP Regulation) and Table 3.2 (under the old system) of Annex VI to the CLP Regulation.
In Finland Tukes is the agency appointed as the competent authority concerning the CLP and REACH Regulations. These Regulations oblige the national competent authorities to maintain a national helpdesk from which enterprises can, for example, get answers to questions about the scope of application of the Regulations.
Legislation governing classification and labelling applied until 1 June 2015 (in Finnish):
Legislation governing classification and labelling to be applied to substances no later than 1 December 2010 and mixtures no later than 1 June 2015: