Labeling Compliance for Hazardous Products
Did you know that even if a product is manufactured to exact specifications and performs as expected, it can still be non-compliant and ?defective? if it is not labeled as required by law?
This is of particular concern to those who manufacture, pack, distribute and sell ?hazardous substances,? defined by federal law as any substance or mixture of substances which is toxic, corrosive, an irritant, a strong sensitizer, flammable or combustible, or generates pressure through decomposition, heat, or other means, if such substances or mixture of substances may cause substantial personal injury or substantial illness during or as a proximate result of any customary or reasonably foreseeable handling or use, including reasonably foreseeable ingestion by children. ?Hazardous substances? carry specific labeling requirements, which are spelled out in detail in the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA). The Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the enforcing agency for the FHSA.
Generally, the FHSA requires precautionary labeling on the immediate container of ?hazardous substances? to alert consumers to the potential hazards, and to advise consumers what to do to protect themselves and children from such hazards. The FHSA contains a ?laundry list? of items which, at a minimum, must be included on such labeling. Moreover, federal regulations govern how the required information must be presented. These include specific locations for ?signal words,? type size and style, color contrast, as well as special rules for tubes and unpackaged hazardous products.
Although the CPSC will not design labels for ?hazardous substances,? it will provide a manufacturer, packer, distributor or seller with informal comment on proposed product labeling. Obtaining such an informal comment is one way to nip potential non-compliance sanctions in the bud.
The CPSC is also authorized by the FHSA to ban ?hazardous substances? when, in the judgment of the CPSC, the product is so hazardous that no amount of cautionary labeling would be adequate to protect the public. Complete lists of banned substances can be found in CPSC?s regulations. Among others, banned substances include general use garments containing asbestos, products containing soluble cyanide salts and carbon tetrachloride.
In addition to these general labeling requirements, the CPSC has issued specific labeling requirements for products containing ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, benzene toluene, xylene, petroleum distillates, turpentine, methyl alcohol, charcoal, fireworks, and art materials presenting a risk of chronic toxicity.