Health hazards can be summarized into 5 different groups:

  1. Non-classified

    These are generally safe for use. Contact with the skin and eyes is always best avoided but these products would not be expected to result in harm should exposure occur.

  2. Irritants

    These products have a low level of risk associated and will often cause some irritation if exposure occurs. Some can have higher risk associated, predominantly in case of eye contact although the risk of permanent damage is much lower than higher classified products.

  3. Harmful

    These products add to the risk of irritants. Exposure to these products can result in lasting harm to the user, particularly in case of ingestion and inhalation (whilst irritants are hazardous, damage caused is typically reversible).

  4. Corrosive

    These products are effectively extreme irritants. Exposure to the products would be expected to cause burns to the skin and serious damage to eyes. Corrosive products are split into two groups with the R35 classification identifying a product of extreme danger which, realistically, should not be used by anyone other than a professional user who is trained and has the necessary safety equipment available. This product class is traditionally common in TFR style products for industrial use but is becoming increasingly common with other wash products as a result of cheaper products on the market.

  5. Toxic

    These products are effectively extremely harmful products. Exposure can quickly lead to illness and even death if untreated. Such products should be avoided unless truly necessary and used by a professional. Such is the hazard, if an alternative product of lower hazard is available, this should be used, even if additional cost is involved. Methanol based products are a good example where the sale to the public is subject to additional regulations.


This is worth special note due to the increasingly common practice of with holding MSDS. It is a legal requirement to make MSDS available for any product which has a health classification. This is not an option and a supplier is putting the user at risk, as well as breaking the law by with-holding the information. Additionally, MSDS for unclassified products must also be made available to professional users - again this is a legal requirement. Products should be classified according to CHIP and/or GHS/CLP. Classifications should be shown on product packaging and on the MSDS which must be formatted according to REACH regulations (most notably, the hazards should be presented in section 2 and not section 3). We suggest that any breach of the law is reported to the relevant health and safety authority.