Chemical & Oil Drum Labelling Certified Labels BS5609

Shire Labels can now supply short run digital BS5609 compliant labels. British Standard 5609 is widely recognized as the most intensive testing protocol for printed labels, and it is also generally known, in the label industry, as one of the highest standards for label durability. BS 5609 establishes specifications and test methods to determine whether pressure-sensitive, adhesive-coated labels will perform under marine conditions.

The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code is the guide to all aspects of handling dangerous substances and marine pollutants in sea transport. The IMDG Code as originally amended was recommended to governments as the basis for national regulations. After some amendments, the Code is now mandatory. It lays down detailed recommendations for individual substances, materials and articles: good operational practices, including advice on terminology, packaging and labelling: stowage, segregation and handling: and emergency-response action.

With a focus on labelling, IMDG classifies dangerous substances by their properties to determine how they should be handled, packaged, loaded, transported, unloaded and stored. The goal is minimizing environmental and safety damage from chemical containers lost or damaged at sea: if a chemical container washes onto shore, its BS 5609-certified label will remain intact to communicate critical information regarding how to handle the contents.

Within IMDG, chemicals are classified according to the IMO classification system. There are 9 classifications, each of which require their own dual-coloured, diamond-shaped label.

As well as, being classified correctly, the label should be readable at all times. Both GHS and IMDG require labels that can endure the extreme environment that sea transportation might entail, such as resistance to seawater and exposure to sunlight.

Even when the drum/container has been submerged in seawater, the label should be readable:

...affixing packages containing a harmful substance shall be such that this information will still be identifiable on packages surviving at least three months’ immersion in the sea.

IMDG Code Chapter 5.2 Labelling of packages including IBCs Provision 7 for Labels (

To meet the requirements of GHS and IMDG, the testing protocol British Standard 5609 (BS 5609) was developed by the British Standards Institution.

In addition, BS 5609 compliance is sometimes requested, by the label converters or end users, when extra durable labels are needed, even when a shipment is not going by sea.