All containers filled with hazardous chemicals must be properly labeled to comply with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (GHS) regulations, and our labels make updating easy and efficient. The new hazardous chemical label requirements took effect in 2016—so while all workplaces should be up to date, facility managers and employees should still be aware of what changed to make sure chemicals are properly labeled upon receipt and when issued to the production floor.

OSHA mandated employers to update their procedures concerning hazardous chemicals to ensure employees know how to read chemical labels and that safety information is available on all containers. For many, this meant updating secondary containers—that is, containers into which hazardous chemicals are transferred from the original bottle, canister, or receptacle. Any business still using outdated labels is in danger of GHS-related violations or chemical-related accidents. 

Whether your business has trouble maintaining a uniform labeling system or you are not yet up to code, our GHS labels and resources can help you achieve—and sustain—compliance with these OSHA standards. See how the new hazardous material labels we developed are designed to help you meet today’s chemical communication standards.

Understanding HAZCOM Label Requirements

Improve your Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) Program by understanding the label requirements. Before the change, companies and organizations had been using labels that did not contain pictograms, signal words, or other core elements of the GHS labeling scheme. These older labels also relied on a hazard numbering scale that runs in the reverse direction of the GHS scale (that is, high numbers denoted high hazards instead of low hazards).

Now labels must include a pictogram and signal word to alert users to the possible risks. Safety Data Sheets (SDS), which must align with the hazardous chemicals on site, were also updated when the new hazardous substance labels were introduced. These now include 16 sections of uniform information intended to be a complete resource for safe handling, storage, and use; the GHS labels for chemicals provide a snapshot of this safety information to immediately alert and assist anyone interacting with the substances. 

Compliance with the OSHA Hazard Communication Program goes beyond what information is required on a chemical label. Container markings for hazardous chemicals must also be:

  • Prominently displayed on the original and/or secondary containers
  • Written legibly in English (additional languages may also be displayed) 
  • Revised within six months of significant information changes or updates

Anyone evaluating your shop floor for compliance with GHS needs to understand different chemical container requirements. 

Label Requirements for Primary Containers of Hazardous Chemicals

All primary containers of hazardous chemicals must be labeled to convey six main elements in words, symbols, or a combination. The information required on a chemical label for the primary container includes:

  • Contact information: the name, address, and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or responsible party
  • Product identifier: the name, code number, batch number, or other defining title
  • Signal word: noting the severity of the hazard—Danger, Hazard, or N/A 
  • Hazard statements: describing the nature of the hazard (Causes damage to the skin through repeated exposure.)
  • Chemical precautionary statements: measures to prevent adverse effects  (Do not breathe fumes.)
  • Pictogram(s): indicating the chemical is a health hazard, flammable, corrosive, toxic, or other risk

Label Requirements for Secondary Containers of Hazardous Substances

When transferring a chemical into a vessel for storage, the secondary container must be properly labeled to alert anyone interacting with the substance of its hazards. While the primary container requires six points of information, secondary containers only have these two requirements: 

  • Product identifier: the name, code, batch number, or other defining title
  • General hazard information: in words, symbols, or a combination

It can be difficult for facility managers to know what “general hazard information” might entail, and OSHA does not prescribe strict requirements for meeting this standard. Employers can choose the system—words, symbols, or a combination—that works best for the situation as long as the label provides, “at least general information regarding the hazards of the chemicals,” so that employees may understand the physical and health risks.

Do Immediate-Use Containers Require Labels?

When auditing your facility’s compliance with GHS standards, knowing which containers do not require content labels can help you prioritize updates. Labels are not required for portable containers if the employee who transfers the substances intends it for immediate use. Similarly, containers of non-hazardous substances do not require labels—however, you may label these for better communication. Even though SDS safety labels are not required in these instances, identifying the contents and indicating any health hazards or warnings can be helpful for organization and accident prevention.

5 Reasons to Choose Stop-Painting’s GHS Labels for Chemicals

There is no set format for a GHS-compliant label, as long as all required components are present and the writing and graphics are legible. That said, using standardized, preprinted GHS labels helps ensure compliance through clear communication. 

We offer carefully researched GHS workplace labels created by hazmat specialist and former OSHA Compliance Officer Chris Palmisano. These HAZCOM labels include placeholders for the following elements:

  • Product identifier
  • Signal word
  • Pictograms
  • Chemical hazard & precautionary statements
  • Color-coded hazard classification (Health, Reactivity, Flammability, and Other)
  • HMIS PPE code (A for safety glasses, D for shield, gloves, and apron, etc.)

Our professionally designed GHS labels for chemicals make upgrading your labeling system an efficient process with these five benefits:

1. User-Friendly and Economical GHS Labels

There are no printers or additional equipment needed so this label is very easy for anyone to use. All you need is a pen or marker and the parent container or the SDS. Employees can take responsibility for labeling secondary containers without needing to be tech-savvy, and down machines won’t delay labeling tasks. We offer GHS labels in rolls of 100 to ensure every bottle in your chemical cabinet is consistently marked for improved understanding and hazard recognition.

2. GHS HAZCOM Labels Include Elements Directly from Parent Containers

Hazard data can be transferred directly from a parent chemical container to our GHS label without running out of fields for information. The label makes it easy to understand what is required on the secondary chemical—fill in or check off every field and the essential warnings are complete. Every item needed from the chemical’s original label has a home on our new hazardous material label.

3. Compliance With OSHA HAZCOM Standards

Our label complies with OSHA 1910.1200(f)(6) regulations for the June 1, 2016 employer deadline for establishing a workplace labeling strategy under the new GHS standards for chemicals. Chemical labels must contain a product identifier, signal word, precautionary statements, and other information that is found affixed to the primary container, and our preprinted labels offer fields for every element.

4. Size Options for Various Chemical Containers

Hazardous chemical labels are required on every size or style storage container. The HAZCOM label must be readable and highly visible to meet OSHA’s placement requirements. We offer two sizes, 3.5-inch by 2.25-inch and 4-inch by 3-inch, to accommodate many container styles and sizes. Both label options are offered in rolls of 100 so you have plenty to update existing containers and have extra on hand for transferring chemicals at workstations or for specific tasks. Special-order labels, such as those in secondary languages for international use, are also available in bulk quantities. 

5. Hazard Labels Accommodate Historic and Ancillary Information

Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS) and personal protective equipment (PPE) codes aren’t requirements of the new SDS labels, but this information can be added to chemical labels. Our design features space to include HMIS/NFPA Hazard Classification System data plus PPE codes and other relevant safety tips beyond what’s required by GHS. 

Employees familiar with the old hazardous label methods, like the HMIS/NFPA, may misinterpret hazard classifications because these systems do not use the same numbering method. Our label helps reduce confusion between GHS Hazard Category Ratings (found in section 2 of the SDS) with the HMIS/NFPA Hazard Classification Systems (sometimes included in section 16) by offering fields for the number ratings, PPE codes, and other facility-specific alerts as needed, which can prevent confusion or labeling errors.

Additional Tips for GHS Compliance

Meeting new SDS and GHS label requirements takes buy-in from everyone in the facility. Management can support employees as they adopt new labeling systems by deploying tactics for GHS compliance, from offering chemical training to displaying visual reminders about SDS and GHS. Facility managers can reinforce HAZCOM standards facility-wide with these methods:

Create a Written Hazard Communication Program

A Written Hazard Communication Program is required by OSHA standards and it can also guide employees on who maintains the HAZCOM materials and what to do when a safety issue arises. We offer an editable Written Hazard Communication Program document with your paid order of GHS secondary labels. Simply update the document with your company’s name and print it out to document your program. 

Adopt 5S Methodologies to Maintain Hazard Communication

5S is a manufacturing methodology that provides techniques for organizing work areas for better productivity, cleanliness, and safety. Implementing 5S to maintain hazard communication might include sorting and identifying chemicals, labeling supply cabinets and shelves, and evaluating SDS and related documents. With these sustainable methods in place, your updates for GHS compliance can become long-term improvements.

Train Employees to Read and Use Chemical Labels

Teaching employees what information hazardous chemical labels must include and how to properly read the symbols and pictograms can improve safety around these substances. Our easy-to-read, intuitive label design organizes GHS information to help ensure relevant warnings are properly transferred to secondary containers. 

Watch GHS Training Videos 

Informational GHS videos can be used as part of a training program to help reinforce how to fill out and read secondary chemical labels. Videos are great tools to use during refresher training for management or existing employees and to onboard new industrial employees. Written training supplemented with visuals supports diverse learning styles and helps with information retention. 

Hazardous chemical labels are essential for meeting HAZCOM requirements, you can take additional steps to improve OSHA compliance. Continue to strengthen visual cues to increase safety markers and encourage good work habits throughout the facility. For more information on industrial safety topics, visit our Resource Center.