Environmental Health & Safety GHS Labels


The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires shipped containers to have chemical labels. The manufacturer or distributor of the chemical or product must include at a minimum the following six items on the label:

  1. Product identifier;
  2. Signal Word (Danger for severe, Warning for less severe);
  3. Hazard statement(s);
  4. Pictogram(s);
  5. Precautionary statement(s); and
  6. Name, address, and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party.

WSU personnel shall be familiar with the six items on chemicals in their workplace. They must not remove or deface shipped labels on hazardous chemical containers unless the container is immediately relabeled or marked with the required information.

Sample Label (PDF)
Departments or units with chemicals received prior to HCS alignment with GHS are not obligated to relabel these containers. As long as the existing label was compliant under the previous Hazard Communication Standard (1994) then it is acceptable to DOSH. The only exception to this would be if additional hazards or precautionary information has been determined based on the new GHS aligned standard, then that information must be conveyed to the employee(s) through information and training.

Workplace Labels

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 container (e.g. cleaners/disinfectants transferred to spray bottles). If the secondary container does not have a label, it must be labeled immediately with either:

  • The information specified under numbers 1 through 4 for shipped containers (above); or
  • Product identifier and words, pictures, symbols, or combination thereof, which provide at least general information regarding the hazards of the chemicals, and which, in conjunction with the hazard communication program, will provide employees with the specific information regarding the physical and health hazards of the hazardous chemical.

This requirement allows for some leeway in creating the label. However, this is not an excuse to use poor labeling practices that do not provide necessary or adequate hazard and safety information to the employee using the chemical. Supervisors should ensure they provide as much information on the label as feasible without it becoming too crowded or unreadable.

In some instances, the container may be too small to attach a label or perhaps the container should not be labeled directly (stationary process containers that heat up for example). In these cases, supervisors must use wire tags, signs, placards, process sheets, batch tickets, operating procedures, or other such written materials instead of affixing labels to the individual container as long the alternative labeling identifies the applicable containers and conveys the information required under the bulleted items above.

Washington State University