Last updated: August 21, 2017

What Does Pictogram Mean?

A pictogram, also referred to as a pictogramme, pictograph, or simply picto, is an ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Pictographs are often used for the labeling of containers and for workplace hazard warnings, as well as being used for the transport of dangerous goods. These uses are part of the international Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

Hazard pictograms are a key element for the labeling of containers under the GHS as recommended in the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, widely implemented in national regulations such as the U.S. Federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

Safeopedia Explains Pictogram

Pictograms are graphic representations that indicate to workers the type of hazardous product that is being transported and/or stored. They indicate if products are flammable, explosive or pose a serious health hazard. Most pictograms have a distinctive red “square set on one of its points” border with a symbol inside that represents the potential hazard (e.g., fire, health hazard, corrosive, etc.). The combination of this symbol and the border are referred to as a pictogram.

Pictograms are assigned to specific hazard classes or categories to indicate the nature and degree of the risks posed by the product. They are assigned alongside precautionary statements that indicate how hazardous products should be handled to minimize risks to workers (as well as to other people and the general environment).


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