Safety as a top priority

Our customers and consumers can be certain that our products are safe when used as intended. All raw materials and finished products are subjected to numerous assessments and tests to ensure a high level of safety during production, use and disposal. The starting point for this process is ensuring compliance with statutory regulations, and with Henkel standards which go beyond these. Each new product and process is then subjected to a safety assessment. This is the basis for necessary precautionary measures and is updated as soon as new scientific data are available.

Implementation within the Company

Regular audits are carried out to verify compliance with corporate safety requirements and procedures. The business sectors are responsible for the implementation of product safety.

Graph Implementation within the Company

Identifying hazards – Assessing risks

In assessing the safety of a product, the first step is to determine whether its ingredients could pose a hazard to people or the environment. Does a substance have harmful effects? Is it corrosive or toxic, for example? If so, an exposure analysis is carried out in a second step to clarify the extent to which people and the environment could be exposed to this substance. In most cases, a harmful effect will only occur when the quantity and concentration of the substance reach a certain level. The results of these two steps have to be combined to arrive at a comprehensive risk assessment. Only then is it possible to determine whether a product is safe for its intended use. A simple example is acetic acid, which represents a potential hazard as it can cause serious harm in high concentrations due to its caustic properties. When used in diluted form in our food, however, it does not pose a risk.

Graph risks

Substance assessment

The use of substances with certain dangerous properties is precluded for specific applications from the very start. Other substances are subject to strict conditions and constraints imposed by Henkel itself. In other cases, we work to further improve health compatibility by developing alternative ingredients. One example of this is the switch from solvent-based to water-based formulations for our consumer and contact adhesives.

Product assessment

The formulated product is then assessed again. The properties of the individual ingredients, their concentrations in the product, and the conditions under which the product is to be used are evaluated. Products that will come into contact with human skin are also tested dermatologically. Depending on whether the product is intended for consumers or for industrial use by trained personnel, Henkel optimizes the necessary precautionary and protective measures. These may range from the design of the packaging to detailed instructions for use or the replacement of certain ingredients by more suitable substitutes.

Continuous monitoring

Henkel's products are monitored continuously in the market by product developers and product safety experts, whose findings are channeled into the product assessment process. Consumer contacts are a particularly valuable source of information.

Controversial ingredients

The safety of the chemical ingredients in products is a recurring subject of controversy. The public perception of the risks associated with certain substances often differs from the assessments of scientists. There are many reasons for this. The potential hazard that a substance might pose to people and the environment is frequently equated with a direct risk, without taking into account the actual level of exposure to the substance. Henkel rejects general lists demanding that controversially debated ingredients should not be used, since these lists often do not make the above-mentioned distinction between hazard and risk. Such controversies about ingredients always prompt Henkel to carry out assessments with particular diligence. Raw materials are thus examined on the basis of their specific properties and the intended use of the product.

Safe products, backed up by good advice

If, despite appropriately designed packaging and detailed instructions, products are used incorrectly or mishaps occur, Henkel customers and consumers can always contact our advice services. At Henkel's Düsseldorf headquarters these also include a special hotline for emergencies. A team of doctors and toxicologists is available around the clock to take emergency calls and provide advice and online assistance.

Henkel's customers and consumers are not the only ones to benefit from these services. By analyzing the questions received and by monitoring our products in the market, we can identify potential problems at an early stage and channel the knowledge gained into our product development.

Development of alternative test methods

As a matter of principle, Henkel does not use animal testing, unless this is stipulated by legal regulations and no alternative test methods are available for obtaining the necessary safety data. In order to replace these tests as well, Henkel has been carrying out successful research since the early 1980s for the purpose of developing alternative test methods. Many questions regarding the skin compatibility of ingredients can now be investigated with the help of in vitro tests. In vitro tests, such as Henkel's full skin model, have been developed over the past decades in collaboration with external partners as alternatives to animal testing and have been officially accepted for product safety testing.

Bild Versuchsaufbau

Developed by Henkel, the full thickness skin model pictured here can be used to systematically assess the effects of substanes on the skin tissue.

Last updated: March 8, 2012