Does My GHS Label Need BS5609 Compliance?

GHS Labeling ID Technology

Over that last year or so, we’ve talked with a lot of companies that are gearing up to comply with the new Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) rules.

Since all manufacturers of chemical products in the US need to be in compliance by June 1st of this year, there is a lot of activity at the moment – also a lot of questions.

If you need to get your labeling into compliance, OSHA has produced a nice Label Fact Sheet, that you will find here. You can also check out the complete OSHA regulation, here. 

Perhaps the question I get asked the most, relates to the British Standard BS5609 and how it is related to GHS. Many people assume that all labels that meet the needs of GHS also have to comply with BS5609, but that is not the case.

So what is BS5609?

BS5609 testing

BS5609 Testing in the English Channel

BS5609 is a standard that covers the use of pressure sensitive labels for marine use. It specifies durability criteria for materials, adhesives, print permanence and abrasion resistance.

BS5609 comes with very specific testing criteria, including that the printed label needs to be able to survive being submerged in the English channel for 3 months.

When do I have to Comply With BS5609?

Since The OSHA labeling rules for GHS don’t mention BS5609 at all.

On the other hand, if you ship your products by sea and require International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) certification, you will have to comply with BS5609. The person in your company responsible for regulatory issues should be aware of your situation regarding IMDG.

BS5609 labeling ID Technology

IMDG Label Durability Rule

How Does BS5609 Affect My Label Printing

A lot of our customers (especially those with a large number of products) are interested in printing their GHS labels on-demand.

VP700 printer from ID TechnologyFor companies without the BS5609 requirement, our VP700 Memjet powered label printer is a great option. The VP700 allows full colour labels to be printed as needed in full colour, with exceptional quality.

The VP700 comes with a Windows driver that allows printing from any label software program.

Label media is available in both paper and synthetics and the printed labels (especially when printed on the synthetic materials) are durable enough for general GHS applications.

For GHS applications that need BS5609 compliance the labels printed on the VP700 and other Memjet printers are not durable enough to meet the 90 day under water criteria.

There are fewer options for on-demand label printing of BS5609 labels, but the two-colour CAB thermal transfer printer (one head printing in black and the second in red for the pictograms) and the pigment ink based VP495 are both available.

If you need to print and automatically apply GHS labels to your products or packaging, we have some good options for that as well. We also provide label software solutions such as NiceLabel and BarTender.

Want to learn more? Check out our GHS labeling eBook.

Does your company need to comply with the new GHS rules? Here at ID Technology we can help with labels, equipment software and ideas! Call us toll free at: 888-438-3242 Option#3 or you can contact me directly at We’ll get you in touch with one of our ID Technology specialists, right in your area.

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