Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety Workplace Labels for Chemicals

Workplace Labels for Chemicals

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.

The standard provides two methods of labeling the workplace containers with the following information:

  • Product (chemical) identifier, signal word (Danger for severe, Warning for less severe) hazard statement(s), and pictograms; 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.

EH&S recommends that the first method be utilized for consistency and to prevent confusion and/or potential chemical mishandling due to the lack of pertinent information being presented on the label. The items in this option consist of four out of six required elements found on the shipped, or manufacturer’s label. These four items can be copied from the shipped label to the workplace label. They can also be found on the safety data sheet (SDS) for the chemical or product.

Additional information (such as precautionary statements) can be added to the workplace label beyond the four items listed above. However, you may want to resist adding too much information to the label so that it does not become “crowded”. Employees are less likely to read the entire label if there is overwhelming amounts of information. Comprehensive chemical/product information on workplace chemicals are always available on the SDSs, which shall be readily available to employees.

For more information on elements of shipped and workplace labels please see the GHS Labels page and this OSHA Quick Card on Labels.

Workplace Label Templates

EH&S has developed workplace label templates in Word documents of several different sizes to accomodate various workplace container sizes. The templates provide prompts for the label maker to input information from the shipped label or SDS of the chemical/product. For convenience, each of the nine (9) pictograms have been placed on the labels. Pictograms which are not relevant to the chemical hazards can simply be selected and deleted. There are also sections to record who transferred the chemical and the date it was transferred.

Extra Small Label (Approx. 500 mL size or equivalent)

Small Label (Approx. 1 L size or equivalent)

Medium Label (Approx. 1 gallon size or equivalent)

Large Label (Approx. 5 gallon size or equivalent)

Return to Chemical Hazard Communication.
Return to Lab Safety Manual.