Chemical hazards and toxic substances pose a wide range of health and physical hazards. Many workers are unaware of chemicals that create potential hazards in their work environment, making them more vulnerable to exposure and injury. To ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and easily understood by workers.
• What are the most important pieces of information on a chemical container label?
• What is the main purpose of a chemical label?
• When must label information be updated?
• Is labeling mandatory for secondary containers?
• Who provides the chemical labels on chemical containers?
OSHA requires manufacturers, importers, and vendors to provide labels on chemical containers in compliance with its Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200. All shipped hazardous materials are required to have a container label that includes a product identifier, a signal word such as Danger or Warning, a pictogram, a hazard statement, a precautionary statement, and the name, address, and phone number of the responsible party. Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, or employers, who become aware of new
information regarding the hazards of a chemical, must revise the labels for the chemical within six months.
Hazardous chemicals are shipped with a label on the container. An SDS with information about the chemical hazards are also supplied. The label should be kept on the shipped containers, and labels for secondary containers should be produced for all chemicals in the workplace. Secondary containers are usually smaller containers such as bottles or cans, where chemicals are transferred from the primary container. According to OSHA, secondary containers must comply with the labeling requirements; the label must include the full name of the chemical, the hazard, the date transferred, and the expiration date. The labeling requirement depends on the OSHA standard which covers the facility.
According to an OSHA compliance officer, OSHA HazCom workplace labeling citations are currently the number one written OSHA fine citation for General Industry in the United States. The employer must ensure that the labels are in good condition at all times, legible in English, include a GHS pictogram symbol, and are easily recognizable by workers. The SDSs should be available to workers upon request.
As always, be safe out there!