Those with businesses dealing with hazardous chemicals probably know about GHS pictogram labels. However, you might not be up to date with this advanced chemical labeling system. You may also need pictogram labels that are compliant with the Globally Harmonized System. To help you achieve a better understanding of GHS compliant labeling, below are the basics.
The GHS story
The very first edition of the Globally Harmonized System was adopted in 2002, ten years after its creation. A United Nations’ international mandate led to the establishment of GHS. The Globally Harmonized System is described as a system that standardizes and harmonizes how chemicals are classified and labeled. This system is a comprehensive and logical approach that:
• Defines the hazards caused by chemicals
• Establishes a process of classification that uses the data available on chemicals to compare with the criteria of the specified hazards
• Communicates about hazards and protective measures using Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and pictogram labels
However, GHS is not a standard or regulation. It is a system used by regulatory bodies to create or modify existing programs with the aim of addressing:
• The classification of hazardous chemicals
• The transmission of information about such hazards
• Protective measures covering the life cycle of a chemical intended to promote safety to everyone who stands the risk of exposure
Who GHS affects
GHS pictogram labels affect chemical manufacturers, distributors, employers, importers, and regulatory bodies. When it comes to the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals, related organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Consumer Product Safety Commission have different requirements since each covers a different sector. Hazard communications are currently based on sections of the Globally Harmonized System that are most relevant to related areas. The classification and labeling of chemicals is often a complicated, costly, and time-consuming task, especially since multinational companies face the additional challenge of regulations from both internal and foreign agencies. The aim of creating GHS pictogram labels was to make classification and communication of hazardous chemicals easier for companies through the inclusion of consistent information on safety data sheets and labels, which also promotes the safety of everyone who might be exposed.
Elements of GHS compliant labels
While GHS does not feature a standardized or required format of labeling, some elements are required. GHS pictogram labels ought to include:
Pictograms or symbols: Every class and category of GHS hazards features a pictogram meant to convey risk information. Hazardous pictograms feature a black symbol centered inside a red diamond frame and set against a white background. See below for pictograms.
Signal words: Words such as warning and danger are often used to indicate a hazard’s level of severity. All categories have assigned signal words.
Hazard statements: These are standard phrases that are assigned to hazard categories and classes describing a hazard’s nature and its degree when appropriate.
Precautionary statements and pictograms: These detail the measures necessary to either prevent or minimize the adverse effects caused by hazards. You can visit ICC Compliance Center Inc for additional information and insights.