Guide to Understanding Chemical Labels

Hazardous chemicals require labels because they provide information about the chemicals and instructions on how to use the products safely. They're important to businesses such as importers and manufacturers because they tell them about the safety measures required to use these chemicals in the workplace. Additionally, they also help the employees to properly prepare for working with the chemicals for both personal safety and environmental control.

Who Writes the Rules?

To better understand chemical labels, it’s important to know who writes the rules. All hazardous chemicals fall under the advice of the Occupational Health Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA writes the rules for one reason - to save lives. They are a heavy-hitter for violators and actively show up announced to make sure the products are labeled correctly and those using the chemicals know the hazards. For example, sodium or potassium hydroxide (lye) can consume a human body at a temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit and turn it into a tan liquid pool in under three hours.

GHS Compliant Labels

When it comes to chemical labels, OSHA has enacted a new global compliant system called the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). It mandates certain information, requirements, and other elements included on the label of every hazardous chemical sold and used in the workplace worldwide. In the world of hazardous chemicals, OSHA’s unexpected workplace visits and GHS compliant labels unquestionably are saving lives and serious inflections.

6 Key Elements for GHS Compliant Labels

There are six key elements for GHS compliant labels that must be adhered to when placing a label on a hazardous chemical:

1. Pictograms

Pictograms are a hazard symbol with a red border that illustrates how dangerous a chemical is and are globally readable. OSHA has nine pictograms that range from single pictograms to multiple pictograms that people can easily read and understand the dangers of a certain chemical. As OHSA’s new GHS system is being enforced, it has to lead many businesses to find new labeling to meet these requirements. Many businesses discover that researching what needs to be printed is easy enough to do, but it often leads to how in the world do we print these labels?

2. Precautionary Statements

Precautionary statements lower the chemical’s risk to workers, instruct them about minimum exposure time, and what to do if an emergency should occur. When looking for precautionary statements, there are four things your business should consider:

  • Disposal Statements: Disposal statements are the instructions for properly disposing of the chemical.
  • Storage Statements: Storage statements describe how to store the chemical.
  • Response Statements: Response statements are the emergency instructions of the chemical.
  • Prevention Statements: Prevention statements are ways to minimize exposure to the chemical.

3. Signal Words

There are two choices for selecting a signal word for your label: warning and danger. A warning signal simply means a less severe hazard while danger is the more serious type. Since you can only choose one for your label, most businesses across multiple industries select “danger” as their signal word. Danger covers a variety of hazards that exist in a number of chemical classes; therefore, it eliminates label redesign.

4. Hazard Statements

Hazard statements inform users about the nature of the chemical and its degree of danger. Chemical labels can have one or multiple hazard statements, but they should always be consistent and standardized for each category.

5. Product Identifier

The product identifier is generally found in the label’s upper left-hand corner. According to section 1 of OSHA’s material safety data sheets (MSDS), it should describe the hazardous chemical’s name by using an appropriate term as well as code or batch number.

6. Supplier Information

The supplier information contains a chemical manufacturer’s physical name, phone number, and address.

We're the Best Place in the World to Get Your Chemical Labels Printed?

The best place globally to get your GHS complainant labels printed is at Bay Tech Label. Here at Bay Tech Label, we can help you navigate the complex world of printing chemical labels for your business from custom design to bulletproof compliant labels that keep people safe and OSHA happy. For more information about printing chemical labels for your business, simply contact Bay Tech Label and get started today.