Nobody wants to run afoul of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but too often, they do. Lack of awareness or attention to detail regarding safety labeling (GHS labels) can result in fines in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

Often, workplace hazards involve potential exposure to hazardous chemicals. For this reason, you will hear about these labels needing to comply with the GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals) standard. GHS provides an internationally recognized standard for identifying chemical hazards throughout any facility.

Here in the United States, you may also hear the term HazCom labels, or labels based on the U. S. Hazard Communications Standard (HazCom). This standard requires everyone involved along the supply chain, from manufacturing to final use, to maintain clear labels and safety data sheets (SDS) about potentially hazardous substances. Despite its importance, HazCom is the second most frequently cited federal workplace safety and health standard, so it’s important to be vigilant. Between October 2018-September 2019 alone, OSHA cited the HCS 4,102 times, resulting in $5.1 million in fines.

The good news is, once you familiarize yourself with GHS regulations, you are in good shape. Labels meeting the global GHS standard are automatically HazCom-compliant.

Who Needs HazCom-Compliant Labels?

What are the top industries needing GHS-compliant labels? Examples include . . .

  • Medical and chemical supplies
  • Industrial sealants, coatings, and primers
  • Automotive manufacturing
  • Waste management and remediation services
  • Agricultural (fertilizers)

GHS labels are complex products, and learning the requirements for each industry can take time. Fortunately, we’re here to help. Many companies don’t realize the danger in which they are placing themselves, either by being unaware of OSHA labeling requirements or by not paying attention to them. By working with us to develop GHS-compliant labels, you protect the health and safety of your employees and your customers while simultaneously avoiding potentially disastrous fines.

What’s in a HazCom-Compliant Label?

Regardless of industry, there are three components to a GHS label:

1. What is printed on the label.

GHS labels must contain a variety of information, including clear identification of the chemical inside the container; hazards statements: precautionary statements; and contact information of the companies responsible for the contents. For details on these requirements, see OSHA 1910.1200.

2. Materials used in the label.

Materials for GHS labels are determined by the environments in which the products will be stored or transported. For example, maritime drums (those going overseas) must comply with British Standard 5609 (BS 5609), meaning they can survive being submerged in sea water for up to three months. Other environmental hazards include long exposure to direct sunlight, harsh weather conditions, and high humidity. Because of the conditions to which most GHS labels are subjected, they generally use synthetic stock, such as vinyl or polyester.

3. How the labels are printed.

Not every printing method is appropriate for GHS-compliant labels. There are three main printing methods used—inkjet, laser, and thermal transfer—each of which has different capabilities to meet both general HazCom requirements and specific individual standards. Our range of equipment ensures that we have the right equipment for every market vertical and application.

Don’t Take Chances

Manufacturers and importers of chemicals can’t afford to take chances with GHS labeling. Working with the right partner to create HazCom labels that meet regulatory standards is an essential way to make products safer for users at all levels and avoid costly fines.

Want to learn more? Contact your Brandmark sales representative. We’re here to help.

Read about all of our label solutions here.