What is required on a GHS label?
The term GHS stands for the Globally Harmonized System Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. It classifies chemicals and communicates hazard and health and safety information to users through safety data sheets and labeling.
Previously, there were several different standards for classification and labeling of chemicals, which made it difficult to regulate, inform, and enforce. These created numerous challenges with cost, international trade requirements, and providing a consistent message. The GHS was developed to address these weaknesses.
GHS Label Elements
A GHS-compliant label consists of the following elements:
- Supplier Identification: Contact information for the chemical manufacturer, including telephone number, name, and address.
- Product Identifier: The chemical name, batch number, and code number.
- Signal Words: Signal words identify the severity of hazards associated with the chemical ("warning" signals a less serious hazard while "danger" signals a more serious one).
- Hazard Statements: Hazards statements are a set of descriptive standard statements that describe the hazards associated with the chemical. They may include an “H” code with a number. Some examples would be:
- H200 – Unstable explosive
- H201 – Explosive; mass explosive hazard
- H220 – Extremely flammable gas
- H223 – Flammable aerosol
- H300 – Fatal if swallowed
- H315 – Causes skin irritation
- H400 - Very toxic to aquatic life
- Precautionary Statements: These are standard phrases that provide advice regarding handling chemical and chemical mixtures. These meet several requirements for general, prevention, response, storage, and disposal precautionary statements. Some examples of precautionary statements would include:
- P101 – If medical advice is needed, have product container or label on hand
- P102 – Keep out of reach of children
- P 201 – Obtain special instructions before use
- P210 – Keep away from heat, hot surfaces, sparks, open flames, and other ignition sources
GHS Hazard Pictograms
There are nine pictograms used in GSH labels to visually communicate the hazards associated with the substance.
Physical Hazard Pictograms
GHS01 – Explosive: Explosives, unstable explosives, organic peroxides, and self-reacting substances and mixtures
GHS02 – Flammable: Flammable gasses, aerosols, liquids, solids, pyrophoric liquids and solids, self-reactive liquids and substances, organic peroxides, and substances that result in flammable gasses when mixed with water
GHS03 – Oxidizing: Specific categories of oxidizing liquids, solids and gasses
GHS04 – Compressed: Gas pictogram for liquefied, refrigerated, dissolved and compressed gasses
GHS05 – Corrosive: Category 1 corrosive substances
Health Hazard Pictograms
GHS06 – Toxic: Acute toxicity through oral, dermal, or inhalation routes of entry into the body
GHS07 – Harmful: Specific organ toxicity for a single exposure, skin or eye irritation, skin sensitization, or oral dermal or inhalation toxicity.
GHS08 - Health hazard: Carcinogenicity, specific target organ toxicity, aspiration hazard, respiratory sensitization, or reproductive toxicity
Physical and Health Hazard Pictogram
Corrosive: Specific categories and divisions of explosives, flammable gasses, skin corrosion, organic peroxides, eye damage, and self-reacting substances and mixtures
Environmental Hazard Pictogram
GHS09: Acute or chronic aquatic environmental hazards and environmental toxicity.
Manufacturers may choose to add such information such as PPE requirements or other details they deem necessary.
Written by Todd Wells
Todd Wells is a safety professional who works to turn complex projects into successes, implementing effective safety initiatives and consistently achieving measurable positive results on his projects.
Todd is currently a Surface Safety Coordinator with Hatch and understands that world-class safety is about establishing a culture that manages risks and workplace behaviors that cost money.
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