Globally Harmonized System for Labeling of Chemicals

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Globally Harmonized System for Labeling of Chemicals

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is a single unified approach to classifying chemical hazards, designing warning labels, and organizing information on safety data sheets.
OSHA officially adopted GHS on March 26, 2012. In the United States, all new shipments of chemicals and safety data sheets must now comply with these labeling requirements.
The GHS label will be present on the primary container of the hazardous chemical when it comes into the workplace and that label must be maintained on the supplied container in your work area. The GHS label, or label elements, can also be used for secondary containers, although your workplace unit may use alternative means for communicating the same information in a different written or displayed format. Some alternate labeling procedures that may be used are discussed on the following pages.
However, if containers of hazardous chemicals leaves your work area, they must be labeled in accordance with the GHS labeling requirements. A label that is on a primary container of a hazardous chemical and is in compliance with the GHS will contain:
  • The identity of the chemical, using the product identifier used on the safety data sheet (SDS)
  • The name, address, and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or responsible party (applies to the shipped container)
  • Appropriate hazard warnings, communicated through the appropriate pictogram(s) as shown on the right
  • Signal word(s)
  • Hazard statement(s)
  • Precautionary statement(s)
All labels on hazardous chemicals are required to contain the above information.
A sample label, provided by OSHA on their website, is shown in the bottom image (note that the images can be enlarged by hovering over the images). This sample label is also available at: Accessed August 20, 2019.
Before you handle or open a chemical container, READ THE LABEL and follow the instructions. If you are not sure about something, ask your supervisor before you proceed.
Please NOTE that you can zoom in on the images on the right by hovering over them with your mouse.