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Discover our extended range of water-based printing materials
Discover our extended range of water-based printing materials
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Download an overview of Avery Dennison’s BS 5609 certified label constructions
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See the top 10 questions for water-based inkjet print
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Download an overview of water-based inkjet printers
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Download the GHS Guidelines 4th Revised Edition
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View the GHS implementation status

Top 10 questions for GHS and water-based inkjet printing

1. What is GHS?

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) provides a set of standardized criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health, physical and environmental hazards.

Under GHS, the type and degree of hazards must be communicated uniformly on labels through six basic elements:

• Hazard symbols or pictograms

• Signal words such as “danger” or “warning”

• Hazard statements such as “fatal if swallowed”

• Precautionary statements regarding storage, disposal or handling

• Product identifiers to define chemical ingredients

• Company identifiers



2. Why was GHS developed?

Many countries have regulations in place to classify and label hazardous chemicals. Unfortunately, the differences in labelling requirements around the world are so significant that a single chemical may require various classifications, labels and safety data sheets, depending on where it’s made or transported around the globe. Labelling variability between countries leaves room for error as chemicals are transported or used, and creates extensive regulatory burdens on chemical producers.

To avoid differences and create consistent standards worldwide, the United Nations created the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

3. Can you tell me a bit more about GHS, its scope and classifications?

The scope of GHS covers all hazardous chemicals, substances and mixtures in all uses — production, transportation, storage, workplace use and consumer use. GHS does not apply to food, pharmaceuticals or cosmetics.

GHS uses a two-part classification to identify:

• The type of hazard (such as flammable or corrosive to metals)

• The degree of hazard (with Category 1 being the most severe)

GHS provides a set of standardized criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health hazards (such as skin irritation); their physical hazards (such as flammable or corrosive); and environmental hazards (such as harm to the ozone layer).

Once a chemical is classified, the hazards must be communicated through labels and safety data sheets (SDS). Although labels may be formatted differently, GHS standardizes six basic elements that must be represented uniformly on labels to clearly identify hazards and communicate safety precautions.

For more details, please refer to GHS Guidelines 4th Revised Edition:


4. Has GHS been fully implemented in European Union?

The European Union published regulation for GHS implementation on December 31, 2008. The deadline for chemical substance classification was 1 December, 2010; for mixtures, the deadline for implementation was 1 June, 2015.

Right now we are in a transition period for chemical mixtures that are manufactured and ‘on-the-shelf’ before 1 June 2015 (a grace period allows use of labels that do not meet GHS standards). The deadline Date for Adoption of GHS Label and GHS MSDS Format is June 1, 2017.

Note that the following 28 countries are Member States of the EU:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

For more details, please refer to UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) GHS Website Implementation status:


5. What are BS 5609 requirements under GHS?

GHS standards require compliance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, a global system that governs the safe transport of dangerous goods by sea. In turn, IMDG requires that adhesive labels for dangerous goods meet BS 5609 specifications. BS 5609 establishes durability standards for printed pressure-sensitive, adhesive-coated labels used in marine environments.

The technical sections of BS 5609 test two aspects of a label to determine its durability in marine conditions:

• Section two tests the label base material for resistance to weathering and abrasion, colourfastness and adhesion

• Section three tests the printed pressure-sensitive, adhesive-coated label — including the printing systems, inks and ribbons applied to certified base materials — by testing for legibility and print permanence after the label is exposed to marine elements


6. Does Avery Dennison have BS 5609 certified materials?

Yes, by using Avery Dennison’s BS 5609 certified label constructions with the specified printer and inks, converters can easily meet the GHS implementation requirements.

Click here to see the selected list of Avery Dennison Material Group products, complying with the materials section of BS 5609 Section two.

Converters are typically responsible for obtaining Section three certification on inks or ribbons for use with Section two-certified label base materials.

7. What printing technologies are suitable for in-house GHS label printing?

In principle, there are two ways to print GHS labels in-house as a chemical manufacturer.

The first option is printing labels with a barcode printer. In this process, you will first receive a roll of pre-printed labels with all the other colours ready, for instance the red colour for GHS pictograms, company logos and branding. Then a monochrome thermal transfer printer is used to print the information in black only – pictograms, batch numbers, warning signals, etc.

In this process a large stock of pre-printed labels is required, plus extra inventory for any variations in the label design and content. This presents logistics, waste and stock management challenges for the chemical manufacturer. Selecting from the different variations of stocks also increases the risks of production errors.

The second option is printing labels with a full-colour digital printer. In this process, you print all colours in one pass, without holding any pre-printed label stocks. Variable information, company logos and branding, different languages can all be processed through the digital printer.

The digital process also allows the label printer to connect with a company ERP system or databases and manage label production centrally. This helps to reduce production errors substantially, and at the same time potentially eliminates unnecessary stock holding and waste. The most commonly used full-colour label printers are colour laser printers and colour water-based inkjet printers.


8. What is a water-based inkjet printer? Is it suitable for GHS label printing?

Water-based inkjet printers include production-scale machines, for instance the Colordyne CDT 2600 series, and bench-top machines such as Colordyne CDT 1600-S and 1600-C. There are also two ink categories: dye-based ink and pigment-based ink (see below).

Dye-based inks generally have a good colour gamut but poor light fade and poor water resistance; while pigment-based inks have good light fade and water resistance but a relatively lower colour gamut. For GHS labelling, a water-based inkjet printer with pigment-based ink system is needed.

Our Water-based Inkjet Printer Overview includes a list that allows you to see which Water-based Inkjet printers have a pigment-based ink system.


9. How do I find out which printer is suitable for GHS label printing?

Most water-based inkjet printer makers publish printer models recommended for GHS label printing on their websites. You can check suitability by reviewing product and ink specifications. Much of this information has already been collated by Avery Dennison in one place – see our Water-based Inkjet Printer Overview.


10. Do you have water-based inkjet substrates in Europe with BS 5609 certificate?

Yes, AZ089 DIG WBIJ PE127 MATT WHITE-S4600-50#SCK has BS 5609 Section two & three certification, and is offered at a low minimum order quantity of just 451 square meters.

To understand more about inkjet technologies and Avery Dennison products, please check out the top 10 questions for water-based inkjet print.