Selling goods containing hazardous substances
This guidance is relevant to retailers and wholesalers who sell goods with hazardous properties such as:
- chemicals, eg pesticides, solvents, paints
- cleaning products, eg bleach, disinfectants
- explosives, eg fireworks, flares
- compressed gases, eg carbon dioxide bottles
- flammable liquids, eg acetone, ethanol, methanol, lighter fluid
- oil and fuels, including petrol, diesel and liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
- biohazardous goods, eg vaccines
- radioactive substances or products that contain radioactive substances.
What you must do
Store fuels safely
If you store oil, including fuels such as diesel, petrol or LPG, you must comply with the oil storage regulations. See our guidance on oil storage.
If you run a petrol filling station, you may need to have a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit. For more information on permits, see our guidance on PPC permits
You must also comply with health and safety requirements for petrol filling stations. This will also help ensure you don't cause a pollution incident.
Comply with Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations
If you store large quantities of dangerous substances you may need a major accident prevention policy under the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations. The COMAH regulations are likely to apply to you if you run a petrol station, or if you sell large quantities of chemicals.
For more information on preventing accidents and emergency plans, see our COMAH guidance.
Comply with the REACH Regulation
If you sell hazardous goods, you may have some responsibilities under the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) Regulation. The Regulation may also apply to you if you sell finished products containing certain chemicals
For more information see our guidance on REACH for retailers and wholesalers.
Provide information for customers
If you sell a chemical that is supplied with a safety data sheet (SDS) you must pass this information on to your customers. The SDS contains information about the chemical, including details of how to store, use and dispose of it safely.
If you receive a chemical without an SDS, contact your supplier to find out whether or not they have to provide one. They may have to under the REACH Regulation.
You must make sure that your products carry any relevant hazard warning labels.
See HSE guidance on chemical labelling and information.
Transport hazardous goods safely
If you use vehicles to transport chemicals - for example, between a warehouse and retail store, or to deliver directly to customers - you must label the vehicle with the correct hazard warning label for the chemicals you carry. If the chemicals are classed as dangerous goods, you must meet further requirements for packaging, labelling and documentation.
Check the Department for Transport's database to find out if your chemicals are classed as dangerous goods.
For more detailed information see HSE guidance on chemical labelling and information.
Store hazardous goods safely
If an SDS is provided with any chemicals you stock, follow the storage instructions on it.
Store vaccines and medicines safely
If you sell or dispense vaccines, medicines or controlled drugs, read our guidance for healthcare providers.
Check whether you need to register for supplying radioactive goods
If you sell or distribute any products that contain radioactive sources, you should check whether you need to have a certificate of registration (Northern Ireland) or an authorisation (Scotland) from your environmental regulator. Smoke detectors, luminous signs and some types of medical equipment may contain radioactive sources.
See our guidance for retailers and wholesalers for further information.
Check if your goods contain persistent organic pollutants
If you sell or distribute hazardous goods, you should check they don't contain persistent organic pollutants (POPs) - a class of chemical that does not break down in the environment. The production and use of POPs is being phased out, and most are already banned in the UK and EU.
Many POP chemicals are former pesticides, but have been used in other ways. For example fireworks imported from outside the EU may contain the POP hexachlorobezene (HCB).
If you have or receive a product which contains a POP, you must not sell it or use it. Contact your environmental regulator to find out how to dispose of the product appropriately.
For more information on what substances are affected see our guidance on POPs.
Check that the purchaser has an appropriate certificate of competence for pesticides
In Scotland it is a requirement for anyone selling plant protection products to make sure that the person who will be using the product has the appropriate certificate.