Trade Name

Last updated: October 31, 2017

What Does Trade Name Mean?

A trade name is a public-facing name used by a company to identify itself or to identify a product or substance that it either sells or utilizes internally.

They are different from the legal names given to a corporation or the scientific names associated with a product or substance.

Safeopedia Explains Trade Name

A trade name for a company or product does not need to bear any relation to its legal, generic, or scientific name. For instance, the legal names of many Canadian corporations are simply a series of numbers followed by the location where they are registered, such as 1234567 Canada Inc. There is a risk that trade names could obscure the hazards associated with a product because they do not identify the legal name of the company or product that they represent. Various occupational health and safety regulations related to communicating the hazards associated with a given product are aimed at addressing this concern.

Trade names are typically used by businesses because they are easier to brand and advertise with than more-complicated and less-consumer-friendly legal names. Trade names have the potential to obscure workplace hazards if the hazardous substances contained in a product are not apparent based on its trade name. The specific hazardous substances associated with “engine priming fluid,” for example, are not readily apparent. Conversely, the hazards associated with products may be more immediately recognizable by their trade name than by their scientific name. For instance, the hazards associated with alpha-Chloroacetophenone are more immediately recognizable under the names “Mace” and “Tear Gas.”

Because trade names are company-specific, they may not be recognizable to workers as containing specific chemical hazards. The regulatory standards associated with communicating product hazards, referred to by OSHA as Hazard Communication Standards, ensure that workers have access to information about a product’s hazards regardless of the name used on the product’s labeling. These rules also require use of a company’s trade name to be consistent across both labeling and safety data sheets (SDS).

Further, trade names must be recognizable so that the trading company can be contacted if safety questions arise. National hazard communication standards are becoming increasingly globally harmonized to ensure that information on hazards does not become obscured as products are traded across borders.


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