Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety Chemical Hazard Communication

Chemical Hazard Communication

Employees, in non-laboratory workplaces, are to be informed of the identities and hazards of the chemicals they are potentially exposed to and what protective measures are required.  Each department using chemicals in a non-laboratory setting is to have a Chemical Hazard Communication Program (HCP).  The program’s main parts are:

EH&S Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) has developed a Chemical Hazard Communication Program template to assist departments in developing a program.  To complete the written program:  carefully read each section and fill-in the required information.

Workplace Label Templates

Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 296-901, Hazard Communication Standard, states that all hazardous chemical containers in the workplace must be labeled. This includes secondary, or workplace, containers into which chemicals have been transferred from the shipped, or manufacturer’s container (e.g. cleaners/disinfectants transferred to spray bottles). If the secondary container does not have a label, it must be labeled immediately as soon as chemical or product is transferred.

EH&S has developed workplace label templates in Word documents of several different sizes to accommodate various workplace container sizes. To access the templates and additional information on workplace labels CLICK HERE.

Hazard Communication and the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

The Globally Harmonized System of Classifying and Labeling Chemicals, or GHS, is a system developed by the United Nations (UN) for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals. GHS itself is not a law, standard, or mandate that must be followed, but rather a voluntary system created in the hope that countries and organizations around the world will use some or all of the system.

OSHA has adopted portions of GHS into its federal Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), or “HazCom” for short. Likewise, Washington State’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) through its Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) has also aligned their revised Hazard Communication Standard, identified as Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 296-901, with GHS. The new GHS aligned HazCom Standard will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.




Employees using chemicals should receive training on the department’s program, the hazardous chemicals in their workplace, and how to protect themselves from those hazards.  Supervisors can use the resources below to provide the training or contact OH&S for assistance.

OH&S has developed a Powerpoint training presentation on Hazard Communication and the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) which is available on the EH&S Training Courses webpage.