GHS Pictogram Labels- What Does it Mean for You

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The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) has been developed as a replacement of the diverse hazard global classification systems with a single universal standard. The goal is to improve the understanding of the dangers and risks that come with hazardous chemicals.

The previous standard set in place in 1994 allowed US chemical importers and manufacturers to convey the necessary hazard information on labels and safety data sheets in whichever format they wanted.

GHS Labels Guidelines

Under the new Globally Harmonized System, chemical importers and manufacturers must provide a chemical label that has a pictogram, hazard statement, signal word, and precautionary statement. This will be a must for each hazard category and class.

Chemical labels will be required to have 6 standardized elements, one which must be a specific language based on chemical classification. The GHS pictogram Labels are meant to convey hazardous dangerous material as per the updated OSHA’s Hazard Communication regulations.

If any chemical with a GHS label is delivered to the workplace, the label must be maintained. In case the chemical gets transferred into any secondary container, the new spray bottle or tank may be labeled with information derived from the original GHS safety data sheet or shipping label.

To be compliant, the challenge is that GHS labels have to remain reliably affixed without becoming unreadable or fading despite harsh outdoor or indoor conditions such as exposure to moisture and chemicals spills.

The GHS Benefits

The GHS hazard statements, pictograms, and signal words ought to be placed together on the label of each chemical product. The changes will help in ensuring improved consistency and quality in the labelling and classification of all chemicals. This will also boost the process of worker comprehension.

Workers will, as a result, get access to better information on the safe use and handling of hazardous chemicals, allowing them to avert illnesses and injuries typically associated with exposure to hazardous materials.

The Implementation Challenge

The greater challenge facing employers is to have the new labeling system requirements in place by 1st June 2016. Your new workplace GHS labels must convey important hazard information, be easy-to-use and keep the employees safe.

Different from the majority office labels which tend to harden and crack in harsh conditions, the GHS pictogram labels have to be UV-resistant with between 2 and 3 years of UV life outdoors. Additionally they have to be temperature-resistant.


The new GHS label format is meant to supply easy-to-understand, yet detailed guidance on how hazard communication elements are to be done. For each class within the hazard class, and each hazard, it specifies what pictogram, signal word, and hazard statement ought to be used. The new standard also entails additional training that must be conducted in regard to newly identified health or physical hazards. Visit the ICC Compliance Center website for more information.

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