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March 30, 2020
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Hazardous Chemical Labels

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) has been adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This system addresses classification of chemicals by types of hazards and harmonizes hazard communication elements such as chemical labels.

GHS Hazardous Chemical Label Elements

Each chemical manufacturer, importer, or distributor is required to label each container of hazardous chemicals leaving the workplace.

The labels must include:

  • The name, address, and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer or other responsible party.
  • Product Identifier: This can include, but is not limited to, the chemical name, code number, or batch number.
  • Signal Words: Signal words are used to indicate the relative level of severity of the hazard and alert the reader to a potential hazard. There are only two signal words, “Danger” and “Warning.” “Danger” is used for the more severe hazards, and “Warning” is used for less severe hazards.
  • Hazard Statements: These statements describe the nature of the hazards of a chemical including the degree of hazard.
  • Precautionary Statements: These statements describe recommended measures that should be taken to minimize or prevent adverse health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous chemicals or improper storage or handling.

There are four types of precautionary statements including:

  • Prevention – for example, “Do not get in or on the eyes, skin, or clothing.”
  • Response – for example, “Do not induce vomiting.”
  • Storage – for example “Store in a well-ventilated place.”
  • Disposal – for example “Dispose of in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations.”

Supplementary Information. The label producer may provide additional instructions or information it deems helpful. It may also list any hazards not otherwise classified under this portion of the label.

Examples of supplementary information may include:

  • Personal protective equipment pictograms indicating what workers handling the chemical may need to wear to protect themselves.
  • Directions for use.
  • Expiration or fill date.

Pictograms. Pictograms are graphic symbols used to communicate specific information about the hazards of a chemical.


Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH:, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;



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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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