How to Make GHS Labels in 3 Steps
If your workplace uses hazardous chemicals, you need to have updated chemical labels that reflect the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) standard for chemical labeling, adopted by OSHA in 2012. Labeling requirements became mandatory in the U.S. on June 1, 2016.
GHS labels need to contain specific information, but once you know how to find that information and where to put it on your labels, label creation won't be difficult. Here's how you can start creating GHS labels in 3 steps:
1. Familiarize Yourself with the GHS Label Format and Safety Data Sheet Contents
Globally Harmonized System labels must include 6 key elements to comply with OSHA's Hazard Communication (HazCom) 2012 standard. Every GHS label or container must contain the following elements:
- 1) Product Name or Identifier: States the chemical's name so viewers see it right away.
- 2) Signal Word: Allows users to quickly determine the chemical's hazard level at a glance.
- 3) Hazard Pictograms: Visually convey the hazards of the chemical.
- 4) Hazard Statements: Phrase(s) that describe the hazards inherent to the chemical. These should be located within the safety data sheet (SDS) and are defined with an H-Code (e.g. H-101).
- 5) Precautionary/First Aid Statements: Phrases related to each Hazard Statement that provide instructions for use or first aid information. Much like Hazard Statements, these will be defined with a P-Code on the SDS Sheet (e.g. P-101).
- 6) Company Name, Address, and Phone Number: States the manufacturer's name, address, and phone number.
Let's examine part 3 of the GHS label, the hazard pictograms, a little more closely. There are 9 GHS pictograms that identify risk in 3 categories: Physical, health, or environmental. Your label may contain one or multiple pictograms depending on the hazards presented by the chemical.
Exclamation MarkIrritant (Skin & Eye), skin sensitizer, acute toxicity, narcotic effects, and respiratory tract irritant
Gas CylinderGases under pressure
FlameFlammables, self-heating/reactives, emits flames, organic peroxides, pyrophoric
Flame Over CircleOxidizers
CorrosionSkin corrosion, eye damage, corrosive to metals
Skull and CrossbonesToxic or fatal toxicity
Exploding BombExplosives, self-reactives, organic peroxides
Health HazardCarcinogen, reproductive toxicity, respiratory sensitizer, target organ toxicity, aspiration toxicity, mutagenicity
Environment (Non-Mandatory)Aquatic toxicity
Safety Data Sheets (SDS):
The information you need to make a GHS label is included on a chemical's safety data sheet (SDS), which you should receive from the manufacturer. All the necessary details can be found in the "Product and Company Identification" and "Hazards Identification" sections of the SDS (Sections 1 and 2). Look for company information, required pictograms, H/P-codes, as well as any relevant first aid, handling, and storage instructions.
- Section 1: Product and Company Identification - Product Name, CAS # (where applicable), Manufacturer Name, Address, and Phone #
- Section 2: Hazard Identification - Hazard Pictograms, Signal Word, Hazard Phrases, Precautionary/First Aid Statements, Storage and Disposal
2. Collect the Information for Your GHS Label
Once you've familiarized yourself with the 6 parts of a GHS label and where to find that information on a chemical's SDS, you can start compiling specific information to make your first label. We've provided examples of where you can place this information on your label.
Start with the basics:
Product Name & Manufacturer Information
- Product Name: Begin by finding the product's name and any relevant CAS # located in Section 1 of the SDS.
- Manufacturer's Info: Manufacturer's information is typically located at the end of Section 1. Include the name, address, and phone #.
Next, determine which hazard pictograms are necessary.
- Hazard Pictograms: Pictograms can be found at the start of Section 2 of the product's SDS.
Finally, find the necessary information pertaining to the chemical's hazards.
Signal Word & Hazard/Precautionary/First Aid Statements
- Signal Word: Located in Section 2 of the SDS. Will state either Warning or Danger.
- Hazard, Precautionary, and First Aid Statements: Include any/all Hazard, Precautionary, and First Aid Statements listed in Section 2 of the SDS. The actual "H" and "P" Codes do not need to be written (e.g. "H-100: Causes eye irritation" would be written as "Causes eye irritation").
3. Format and Print Your GHS Label Using an Industrial Label Printer
Now you can use the information you collected to create a custom GHS label. To print with a LabelTac® printer, you can either use a software program you're familiar with such as Microsoft Word or your printer's included LabelSuite™ software. Either program will let you enter your data and format the template to your liking. There is no exact required format for GHS labels, but they still must contain the 6 required label components. The sample label below shows a possible label format.
The easiest way to transfer your chemical's information from the SDS sheet is to copy and paste it from the SDS to your label template. Once you've moved the text, you can format it to better fit your template. LabelSuite™ label creation software has preformatted GHS templates you can use to build your label. You can also create a template yourself. In Microsoft Word, for example, you can simply use text boxes and shapes to add the information you need.
Tips for Printing Labels:
- If your printer only prints in one color at a time, consider using pre-printed GHS label supply that includes red diamonds for hazard pictograms. This way, you can just print the black symbols and text to complete your label.
- If you plan to print on label supply that contains pre-printed red diamonds, but your chemical will not use all of them, you will need to cover the extra diamonds completely using a black diamond. To do this within your label creation software, you can insert a black diamond over the red outline by choosing "Insert > Shape" or "Insert > Picture" (depending on the software you're using).
- When adding hazard, precautionary, and first aid statements to your label, you may need to reduce the font size to fit all the information you need. Remember, you don't need to include the H or P codes, just the statements themselves.
- Make sure product identifiers/chemical names and signal words are noticeable. We've used bold, all caps text in the example above.
Practical Tools for GHS Compliance
LabelTac® 4 PRO GHS Package
This LabelTac® package has everything you need to start printing GHS Labels today: including label supply, ribbon, blank GHS Labels, & a LabelTac® 4 PRO industrial label printer.
LabelTac® GHS Die-Cut Labels
Turn your LabelTac® into a GHS workhorse with these die-cut GHS Labels. Print custom labels for chemical containers with blank GHS label supply.
GHS Labeling Poster
The GHS Labeling Poster is a quick reference guide to understanding GHS. Hang it in your warehouse to increase safety and knowledge of GHS labels.