The UK’s Offensive Weapons Act introduces new restrictions on the direct-to-consumer sale of corrosive products

acid offensive weapons act

The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 has revised new requirements for the sale, possession and enforcement of corrosive products and substances.

The Act will restrict access to the most harmful corrosive substances by making it an offence to sell a corrosive product, whether over the counter or online, to someone under the age of 18.

It is now the responsibility of the seller to ensure the purchaser, or representative these products are sold to, is 18 years, or over.  The Act recommends sellers apply a ‘Challenge 21/25’ policy for verifying age in the form of photographic evidence such as passport, driving license or PASS-accredited proof of age card.

 

Definition of Corrosive

Products which are defined as ‘corrosive products’ for the purposes of the legislation are those that contain corrosive substances at levels where they could be misused to cause serious harm and life changing injury to others. Any product that contains a substance listed in the following table in a concentration higher than the limit below will be classed as a corrosive product:

corrosive definition

 

Package Labelling

All packages containing a corrosive product must be clearly marked to indicate that it contains a corrosive product and that it should only be delivered into the hands of a person aged 18 or over.  The legislation does not stipulate the type, or characteristics of the labelling which allows sellers to determine how to comply with the labelling requirement.

Sellers could consider the use of symbols as part of the package labelling process. However, they must not use the GB CLP corrosive hazard pictogram, except where the substance or mixture has been classified as corrosive using the CLP criteria and as part of a complete CLP hazard label.  This is because the GB CLP Regulation applies to the whole of the chemical industry, whereas the measures in the Offensive Weapons Act are only concerned with preventing the sale and delivery of corrosive products to under 18s.

The information added to the label should not affect, or obscure the hazard elements already provided and should not contradict, or cast doubt on, the validity of those elements.

Electronic labels used on handheld signature devices, often used by delivery companies and couriers, would not satisfy the labelling requirements.  The Act says that the package itself must be clearly labelled.  Clear and visible labelling is important for retail and delivery staff and couriers to ensure they are fully aware that the package contains a corrosive product and must not be handed over to someone under 18.

For further information, see the Government Statutory Guidance Document


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