Do All Hazard Classes and Categories Require a Pictogram?

One of the most important things to be aware of when it comes to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is the use of pictograms. Pictograms are simple images that can make it immediately clear what type of hazard a chemical can cause. There are quite a few different pictograms that are defined within the GHS standards. Knowing when to use them and what they mean is important for those who do the labeling as well as those who work around chemicals that can be hazardous.

Generally speaking, there is a separate pictogram for each class of hazard within GHS. For example, the pictogram which is an image of a flame is used for all chemicals that can be flammable. There are many different categories within this class, including gasses, aerosols, liquids, solids, pyrophoric liquids, and more. This class can even include self-heating substances and those that may become flammable when in contact with water. All of these different classes of chemicals will use the same pictogram since they are within the same category.

Of course, a single chemical can be hazardous in many different ways. This is why chemicals are often labeled with multiple different pictograms. The pictograms used for a chemical will be based on the specific hazards. So, even if a chemical has just one category of hazard from a given class, it will need to have that pictogram on the container to make everyone aware. Learning about classes and categories within GHS, and how the pictograms are selected, can help to ensure all chemicals in your facility are labeled appropriately.


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