Maritime Labels: What Do You Need to Know?

November 30, 2022

Do you produce and ship hazardous chemicals? If the answer is yes, then you need maritime labels. Whether the drum is plastic or metal, painted or unpainted, and regardless of its chemical composition, labels must adhere properly. If your products are shipped overseas, your maritime labels must also comply with the strict BS 5609 (British Standard) and GHS (Globally Harmonized System) regulations.

What are GHS and BS 5609?

  • GHS is an internationally recognized system for labeling hazardous materials. GHS sets the standard for what should be included on the label, including symbols and pictograms. GHS is used and recognized across the world.
  • British Standard BS 5609 is an internationally recognized specification for printed pressure-sensitive or self-adhesive coated labels specifically for marine use. These regulations require the label to remain affixed and legible even if the drum is submerged in seawater for up to three months. BS 5609 labels and maritime labels are essentially synonymous.

Do Hazardous Chemical Regulations Apply?

Think these standards don’t apply to you? You might not want to answer too quickly. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determines which products are considered hazardous. We all know that things like liquid nitrogen, fertilizers, and refrigerant gases are hazardous, and you might think, “There’s no way my products are in the same category as those!” But from a regulatory standpoint, OSHA might not agree.

Here are some of the more surprising products that are considered “hazardous”:

  • Hairspray
  • Essential oils
  • Fragrances
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Some ink
  • Nail polish remover
  • Paint

Not that hairspray or essential oils are being shipped in chemical drums, of course, but the point is not to make assumptions. Just because you might think that your products are nonhazardous doesn’t mean they are. If the product is a non-food liquid or gel, take the time to check it out.

We Help You Protect Yourself

Hazardous chemicals are everywhere, and they need to be properly labeled. If you store and ship your product in drums, especially overseas, those drums must be readily identifiable by anyone who comes into contact with them, even if they are submerged and constantly bombarded by swirling sand. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the BS 5609 standard and whether it applies to you.

If BS 5609 does apply to your product(s), what do you need to do to protect yourself? It can be challenging to figure out the right maritime labeling solution. The drum label portfolio of one of our suppliers includes 53 adhesive-face stock combinations (corresponding to more than 180 product codes) compliant with part II of the BS 5609 alone! Pick the wrong stock and it will dissolve or fall off the drum. Get the right label stock but the wrong inks and the print will smudge and wash away.

Finding the right combination of face stock and adhesive for your individual products isn’t something you want to sort through on your own. With decades of R&D under our belts, Brandmark understands which combination will work best for your specific containers. When you work with us, you don’t have to be the expert — we are!

Printing In-House?

Want to save money and be able to more tightly control your inventory by printing your labels on demand? Let Brandmark help you get the right setup that allows you to print labels that stick, stay legible, and meet critical standards, while being able to save money and control your inventory. We can provide a start-to-finish solution utilizing fan-folded sheets fed into a compliant inkjet printer. This gives you the print-on-demand of the end user to print any desired image and color.

Ready to start protecting yourself with the right HazCom labels? Contact us! Let’s get to work!

Image by Xvect intern on Freepik

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