What is the GHS format?

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals is a globally recognized standard for identifying various hazardous chemicals. It is used whenever storing, transporting, or acquiring any type of chemical that presents a danger to employees, a facility, the environment, or other areas. In addition, any container or machine using these chemicals should have a GHS label or sign visible as well so everyone (both those working in the area and emergency responders) can quickly see the dangers.

GHS Pictograms

Virtually every aspect of the GHS is standardized so that it can be easily understood by anyone who sees it around the world. The main component of the GHS format is the use of simple images, or pictograms, that represent the various dangers established under this system. Each pictogram represents a specific category of hazard so those who see it will know what types of precautions are required.

Formatting the GHS Pictograms

All pictograms need to be in black and white, and contained within a red diamond. This is how people can instantly recognize them as a GHS label, and act accordingly. Since many chemicals will have hazards associated with multiple different categories, it is possible to position several of these pictograms into a larger diamond. If a chemical requires three pictograms, the open spot should be left blank so it is clear that there are only the three potential hazards.

Offering Additional Information

The GHS pictograms are designed and formatted to be extremely easy to read and understand. This is very helpful in many situations, but it does have limitations on the specific information that can be included. When it is necessary to provide additional details on how to handle the chemicals, the labels should have the GHS hazard diamonds clearly displayed. All additional text can be placed to the sides or under the pictograms so that those in the area can read through it when necessary.


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