3.0 Chemical Labeling
Revised February, 2021
3.1 Labeling of Incoming (Shipped) Chemicals
Chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors are required by regulation to label every hazardous chemical container as described in section 3.2. As long as the original label is affixed and readable, individuals receiving or using the chemical do not have to take any action. If a label is missing or not readable, the responsible user must affix a replacement label that contains the information described in section 3.2.
3.2 Label Information for Incoming (Shipped) Chemicals
Incoming chemicals are those that are obtained from a chemical manufacturer, importer, or distributor. All labels on incoming chemicals must include the product identifier, supplier identification, precautionary statements, hazard pictograms, a signal word, hazard statements, and supplemental information.
- The PRODUCT IDENTIFIER contains the name of the item as well as the product number or other distinguishing information used by the manufacturer, importer, or distributor. An identical identifier must appear both on the product label and on the corresponding safety data sheet.
- PICTOGRAMS indicate the hazard categories that are applicable to the chemical.
- The SUPPLIER IDENTIFICATION section contains the name of the manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party along with the address and contact information.
- A SIGNAL WORD indicating the level of hazard. Only two signal words may be used; “DANGER” for the more severe hazard level and “WARNING” for lesser hazards.
- Standardized HAZARD STATEMENTS describe the nature of the hazards, and where appropriate, the degree of the hazards. HAZARD STATEMENTS are specific to hazard classification categories and as such should appear identically on all chemicals possessing the same hazard, regardless of the manufacturer.
- PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS describe measures that the chemical user should take in order to minimize the likelihood of adverse effects; however, the appropriate measures must be determined by an evaluation of the specific use of the chemical.
- SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION includes any additional instruction or information that the label producer deems helpful.
3.3 Hazard Classification and Ratings
Chemical manufacturers and importers are responsible for evaluating chemicals and assigning applicable health and physical hazards. Specific criteria has been established for the classification of chemical health and physical hazards, with many hazard classes sub-divided into hazard categories based on the severity of the hazard. Numerical, alphanumeric, or alphabetic ratings indicate the severity of the hazard. Under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) criteria, the highest hazards are rated as “1” and lower hazards are rated as successively higher numerical ratings (lower the number, higher the hazard). Analogously, the lower the alphanumeric or alphabetic character, the higher the hazard. The following two tables provide a summary of the hazard classes and associated hazard category ratings.
The hazard rating scheme required by the HCS is in contrast to the commonly used National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 704 System (represented by the “fire diamond”) and the Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS). Both of these systems use a numerical hazard rating scheme where “1” indicates the lowest hazard and “4” indicates the highest hazard. Tables 1 and 2 summarize the health and physical hazards that manufacturers and importer must consider when classifying a chemical under the OSHA HCS.
|Hazard Class||Hazard Categories|
|Acute Toxicity: oral, dermal, inhalation||1, 2, 3, 4|
|Skin Corrosion/Irritation||1A, 1B, 1C, 2 (irrit)|
|Serious Eye Damage/Irritation||1, 2A (irrit), 2B (irrit)|
|Respiratory/Skin Sensitization||1A, 1B|
|Germ Cell Mutagenicity||1A, 1B, 2|
|Carcinogenicity||1A, 1B, 2|
|Reproductive Toxicity||1A, 1B, 2, lactation|
|Specific Organ Toxicity – single exposure||1, 2, 3|
|Specific Organ Toxicity – repeated exposure||1, 2|
|Simple Asphyxiants||Single Category|
|Explosives||Unstable Explosives, Div. 1.1, Div. 1.2, Div. 1.3, Div 1.4, Div 1.5, Div 1.6|
|Flammable Gases||1, 2|
|Flammable Aerosols||1, 2|
|Gases Under Pressure||N/A|
|Compressed Gases||Single category|
|Liquefied Gases||Single category|
|Refrigerated Liquefied Gases||Single Category|
|Dissolved Gases||Single Category|
|Flammable Liquids||1, 2, 3, 4|
|Flammable Solids||1, 2|
|Self-Reactive Substances||Type A, Type B, Type C, Type D, Type E, Type F, Type G|
|Self-Heating Substances||1, 2|
|Chemicals which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases||1, 2, 3|
|Oxidizing Liquids||1, 2, 3|
|Oxidizing Solids||1, 2, 3|
|Organic Peroxides||Type A, Type B, Type C, Type D, Type E, Type F, Type G|
|Corrosive to Metals||1|
3.4 Hazard Category Pictograms
The HCS requires pictograms on chemical labels to alert users of the chemical hazards to which they may be exposed. Each pictogram consists of a symbol on a white background framed within a red border and represents a distinct hazard category. The pictograms included on a specific chemical label are determined by the chemical hazard classification. The pictograms that may be used are shown below, with each chemical label including all pictograms that are applicable.
- Reproductive Toxicity
- Respiratory Sensitizer
- Target Organ Toxicity
- Aspiration Toxicity
- Emits Flammable Gas
- Organic Peroxides
- Irritant (skin and eye)
- Skin Sensitizer
- Acute Toxicity (harmful)
- Narcotic Effects
- Respiratory Tract Irritant
- Hazardous to Ozone Layer(non mandatory)
- Gases Under Pressure
- Skin Corrosion/burns
- Eye Damage
- Corrosive to Metals
- Organic Peroxides
Flame over Circle
Environment *(Non Mandatory)
- Aquatic Toxicity
Skull and Crossbones
- Acute Toxicity (fatal or toxic)
3.5 Replacement Labels
Each hazardous chemical container in the workplace must be labeled as described in section 3.2, or alternatively, labeling must include the product identifier and at least general information regarding the hazards using words, symbols, etc. If, for any reason, this information is not legible on the container a proper label must be promptly attached to the container. Chemical users can generate labels themselves or labels can be obtained from vendors. Contact EH&S if guidance is needed on generating or obtaining labels.
3.6 Secondary Containers
When transferring material to a secondary container (e.g. bucket, spray bottle, can, or jar), the person accomplishing the transfer must ensure that the secondary container is compatible with the material, and that the container is labeled as described in section 3.5.
NOTE: If the secondary container remains in the direct control of the person using it at all times and is emptied by the end of the work shift, a label is not required, but is highly suggested.