Chemical Labeling

Labeling Systems Options for Chemicals

When you’re dealing with dangerous chemicals, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. So, complying with chemical labeling regulations doesn’t just keep your business on the right side of the law, it ensures that anyone who comes in contact with materials has information on how to handle them and what to do in case of an emergency.

Of course, you should always consult with your legal team to ensure compliance, but this blog is a great starting point for understanding label requirements with OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) and California’s Proposition 65. So, let’s get to it and find the right chemical labeling system for the job.

Which Hazard Labels Do I Need on Chemical Containers?

The following products fall under their own rules and labeling requirements:
– Consumer products
– Pesticides
– Environmentally toxic chemicals that fall under the Toxic Substances Control Act
– Products that fall under the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act
– Chemicals regulated by the Department of Agriculture
– Wood products
– Tobacco products
– Biological hazards
– Ionizing radiation

Everything else is covered by Hazard Communication and Laboratory Safety standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This includes any chemical that is in its base form, as well as hazardous materials that will be used to create new products. Hazardous products sold in California also need labels that comply with Proposition 65, no matter what their end use may be.

HCS & GHS Labels: Chemical Labeling Regulations for Hazard Information

OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) follows the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Chemical Labeling (GHS). HCS compliant labels have four sections:

  1. A harmonized signal word. “Danger” is used for severe hazards, and “warning” for less severe hazards. Only the strongest applicable word is used on labels. For example, if the chemical is a severe oxidation hazard and carries a minor risk of igniting, the label should say “Danger.”
  2. GHS pictograms illustrating hazards, each surrounded by a diamond-shaped red border.
  3. A hazard statement that includes the hazard class, category, and, in most cases, degree of hazard.
  4. A precautionary statement that describes recommended practices that will minimize or prevent adverse effects when handling or storing the chemical.

GHS Pictograms

GHS pictograms are designed to be understood worldwide, independent of language. Of the 9 pictograms in use, 8 are required for specific hazards. Here’s a description of what they look like, and how they’re used.

Health Hazard
Looks like: A silhouette of a person with a 6 point burning motif
Used for: Toxins, mutagens and carcinogens

Looks like: A flame with a line beneath it
Used for: Flammables, pyrophorics, self-heating chemicals, self-reactives, organic peroxides and anything that emits flammable gases

Looks like: An exclamation point
Used for: Skin sensitizers, skin irritants, eye irritants, acute toxicity, respiratory irritants and chemicals that can cause narcotic effects
This pictogram is also used for chemicals that are hazardous to the ozone layer, but this labeling isn’t mandatory.

Gas Cylinder
Looks like: A pressurized gas cylinder tilted on its side
Used for: Gases held under pressure

Looks like: A hand and black bar being burned by vials of chemicals
Used for: Skin corrosion, skin burns, eye damage and metal corrosion

Exploding Bomb
Looks like: An exploding sphere
Used for: Explosives, self-reactives and organic peroxides

Looks like: A flame above a circle
Used for: Oxidizers

Skull and Crossbones
Looks like: A skull and crossbones
Used for: Acute toxicity, whether toxic or fatal

Looks like: A tree and fish
Used for: Aquatic toxicity
This is the one non-mandatory symbol.

HCS Label Layouts

A detailed HCS label is typically divided into two columns:

Left Column
– Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code or CAS number and product name
– Supplier information, including the name, address and emergency phone number for the company
– Precautionary statements, including handling recommendations, first aid and fire instructions

Right Column
– GHS pictograms
– Signal word
– Hazard statements
– Supplemental information, including expiration date, manufacturing date, recommended personal protective gear and directions for use

Two column labels are mostly seen on large containers, like 50 gallon drums. If less information is needed, or the label needs to fit a small package, you can use chemical labels laid out in a single column:

– Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code or CAS number and product name
– GHS pictograms
– Signal word
– Hazard statements
– Precautionary statements, including handling recommendations, first aid and fire instructions.
– Supplier information, including the name, address and emergency phone number for the company

On even small items, it may be difficult to fit all the necessary information directly on the label. In this case, the label may only include basic information including the GHS pictogram, hazard statement and signal word.

However, complete label information must be included with the product, whether it’s on the box it’s shipped in or a paper that is packaged with the container.

Labels for California Proposition 65 Compliance

Along with the chemical labeling requirements from national and international agencies, products sold in California must comply with labeling established by the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, known colloquially as “Proposition 65.”

The state maintains a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. Updated each year, this list has grown to include over 800 chemicals. Businesses have 12 months to comply with labeling requirements once a chemical is added to this list. In 2018, the law was amended to make labeling clearer on consumer goods:

– The warning must be at least the same size as other consumer information, and the writing must be in a 6 point or larger font.
– It must include the GHS exclamation pictogram
– Chemical labels must include versions of the warning for each language used on the packaging and any instructions. For example, if you package the item with English, Spanish and French instructions, the warning must also be in English, Spanish and French.

Labeling Machine Options for Chemical Containers

Both HCS and Proposition 65 information can be part of a larger label or a separate label.

If you want to apply chemical warnings on labels separate from the main product label, consider CTM’s front back wrap labeling system. This labeling machine can apply more than one label, letting you switch the product and warning labels independently.

For small vials and round containers, you may want to consider a semi-automatic tabletop wrap labeler. By switching out the star wheel, you can use this machine to label a range of small, round containers.
For these smaller label applications, remaining hazard communication information can be applied to the boxed containers. CTM offers a variety of standard labeling systems and print and apply labeling applicators to accommodate any need, increase efficiency and improve work processes.

Let Us Help You with Safety Label Compliance

Looking for a way to add OSHA and Proposition 65 compliant labels to your products without slowing down production? Contact CTM Labeling Systems. We can direct you to a local distributor who can set you up with a chemical labeling system that will fit your facility’s needs.