British Standard BS5609 is a specification for printed pressure-sensitive, adhesive-coated labels for marine use, including requirements for label base material. It sets out various durability criteria including adhesive performance, print permanence and abrasion resistance, stipulating minimum standards for labels to be used in "Marine Environments”. 

BS5609 testing is a requirement for self-adhesive drum labels needing International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) certification. Testing includes a three month exposure of labelled test plates in salt water at mid-tide.

Three images of our marine immersion testing in progress, with colleagues leaning out of a boat placing test items into a rig floating in the ocean.

Why test labels to BS5609?

  • Internationally-recognized standard covering suitability of goods-labelling for marine shipment
  • Widely referred to when specifying an extremely durable label
  • Compliance is a requirement for self-adhesive drum labels needing certification with:  
    • Merchant Shipping Regulations
    • International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG)
    • Globally Harmonized System of Classification (GHS) standards. 

What we can provide

Smithers offers a complete, independent BS5609 testing service using specialist, purpose-built facilities. More importantly, our experts are here to guide you through the requirements and test results offering professional advice and recommendations.

Details on BS5609 testing

BS5609 comprises four parts. Section 2 details the performance requirements of the label base material. Section 3 details the performance requirement of the printed label. The Section 3 print tests can only be made on label base materials that have already met the requirements of Section 2. Each combination of print and label base material needs to be tested for Section 3 certification.
Section 2 of BS5609 tests the label base material
  • Marine environment (3 months exposure at mid-tide using our test site on the south coast of England). 
  • Peel adhesion to aluminium plates
    • 48 hours after application
    • After temperature cycling: 7 days at 60°C and 2 hours at 0°C
    • After exposure to both artificial salt spray and sunlight.
  • Colour fastness after exposure to artificial salt spray and accelerated sunlight
  • Dimensional stability after exposure to artificial salt spray and accelerated sunlight
Section 3 of BS5609 tests the printed label
  • Print key effectiveness: resistance to print removal
  • Abrasion resistance using a mixture of sand and artificial sea water
  • Permanence of print: colour fastness after exposure to artificial salt spray and accelerated sunlight
Appendix K tests (for label base materials already compliant with Section 2)
  • Peel adhesion to a specific user-defined substrate*
    • After 7 days
    • After 7 days immersion in saline solution
    • After temperature cycling: 7 days at 60°C and 2 hours at 0°C.

*Substrates can include plastic drums, painted steel and substrates with different surface textures - supplied by the client. Smithers can provide a natural ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) finished with a 360 grit finish to test adhesion performance on a typical plastic chemical drum material.

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