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GHS and Chemical Labelling

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Not so long ago, working with hazardous chemicals was especially dangerous because, often times, employees didn’t know exactly what they were dealing with.   For example, the container may have come from a company in another country. Even if they did label it, the message may have provided little in the way of helpful information. Workers would have to use their best judgment when transporting, storing, or extracting the chemical. Then, in 1992, the United Nations decided to come up with a solution to this persistent problem. The result was GHS.

GHS stands for Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. It is an internationally-recognized standard for labelling containers that hold hazardous materials. Currently, more than 65 nations have adopted some version of these standards. GHS isn’t international law. The hope is that all members of the UN will eventually adopt these guidelines in their entirety, but countries are free to pick and choose which recommendations they wish to apply as law.

A GHS classification is used by manufacturers to communicate the main risks involved with a specific chemical. In total, there are 29 GHS classification categories for unique hazards. These are broken down into three main categories: physical hazards, health hazards, and environmental hazards. The GHS provides objective standards for classifying each of these categories.

All hazardous chemical labels must be made with six different indicators. These GHS label requirements are meant to succinctly communicate key information about what is inside. However, the GHS takes into consideration that, sometimes, it’s not possible to keep workers safe with only these six label requirements, which is why it also allows for supplemental information.

GHS signal words clarifies the relative level of danger a hazardous chemical represents. There are only two GHS signal words, though: Warning and Danger. The former is used for lesser hazards while the latter is for labelling those with greater degrees of severity. GHS label requirements also specify that only one of these words can be used. Therefore, even if a chemical has two hazards associated with it – one requiring “Warning” and one requiring “Danger” – both GHS signal words will not appear on the label, only “Danger” as it is the more severe of the two.

Labelservice, with over 20 years of experience in chemical labelling, you can be sure that whatever needs you have, we have the answer. We deal with all market sectors of the chemical industry: Adhesives and Sealants, Lubricants, Paints, Aerosols, Agrochemicals, Automotive and Car Care, Household Cleaners, Detergents and Disinfectants, Repellents and Removers, Urinal and Washroom, Swimming Pool Chemicals and E-Cigarette Liquids. We offer bespoke printing for primary product labels, as well as several stock products such as tactile warning triangles, CHIP or GHS laser sheets and warning diamonds. Call us today.