Understanding GHS Labels: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by David Coatney on

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is an international initiative to standardize and harmonize the classification and labelling of chemicals across the globe. One of the most visible outcomes of this system is the GHS label. Whether you're a researcher, manufacturer, or just a curious individual, understanding GHS labels is crucial. This blog post will demystify GHS labels for you.

What are GHS labels?

GHS labels provide crucial information about the hazards of chemical products. They are meant to be universally understood, irrespective of language or culture, thanks to the use of standard symbols and statements.

Key Components of a GHS Label

  1. Product Identifier: Clearly mentions the chemical name or product name. This ensures that the user knows precisely what chemical or mixture they are handling.

  1. Supplier Identification: Provides information about the manufacturer or distributor of the chemical. This can include the name, address, and contact information.
  1. Pictograms: These are standardized symbols that quickly convey specific hazards associated with the chemical. For instance, a flame symbol indicates that the chemical is flammable.
  1. Signal Word: This is a standardized word, either "DANGER" or "WARNING", which indicates the severity of the hazard. "DANGER" represents more severe hazards.
  1. Hazard Statements: Descriptive statements that detail the nature of the chemical hazard. An example might be: “Causes skin irritation.”
  1. Precautionary Statements: These give advice on how to handle, store, and dispose of the chemical safely. They also provide first-aid instructions in case of exposure.

Understanding GHS Pictograms

There are nine GHS pictograms, each represented by a black symbol on a white background within a diamond-shaped border. These pictograms cover hazards ranging from environmental toxicity to flammability. Let's briefly go through them:

  1. Health Hazard: Represents chemicals that can cause health issues like carcinogenicity, respiratory sensitization, or reproductive toxicity.
  2. Flame: Represents flammable or self-reactive substances.
  3. Exclamation Mark: Indicates skin and eye irritation or acute toxicity.
  4. Gas Cylinder: Denotes gases under pressure.
  5. Corrosion: Represents chemicals that cause corrosion or skin burns. It can also represent substances that are harmful to metal.
  6. Exploding Bomb: Indicates explosives or self-reactive substances.
  7. Flame Over Circle: Represents oxidizing agents.
  8. Environment (fish and tree): Denotes substances that are harmful to the aquatic environment.
  9. Skull and Crossbones: Indicates acute toxicity.

 Why Are GHS Labels Important?

  1. Universal Understanding: Because of standardized symbols and statements, GHS labels are easily understood globally. This reduces the risk of mishandling chemicals.
  2. Safety: They offer crucial information for safely handling, storing, and disposing of chemicals.
  3. Trade: For manufacturers and businesses, standardized labels mean smoother international trade processes, as they reduce the need for multiple labels for different regions.

Conclusion

GHS labels are not just stickers on a chemical container. They are a crucial component of global efforts to ensure safety, standardization, and clarity when it comes to chemicals. Understanding them is not only necessary for professionals in industries dealing with chemicals but also for everyday consumers, ensuring we all know the risks and can act accordingly to ensure our safety and that of our environment.

GHS compliant labels can be difficult to source. At Mediajet, we strive to be your one-stop shop for blank GHS compliant labels, and on-demand color label printers. We will help you evaluate your current label printing needs, understand all of your options, and choose the set-up that is right for you. We offer a large variety of in stock and custom GHS labels that typically ship within 48 hours. Please contact our team by phone, 904-222-6840, or email customerservice@mediajet.com for further assistance.


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