Understanding Chemical Identification Labels | GBF
9th May 2016

Understanding Chemical Identification Labels

Procurement managers and warehouse managers are required by law to stay up to date on the latest chemical identification labels. However, knowing when you have to use chemical labels and what chemical labels you will need can be difficult.

This post will cover chemical identification label usage directions, as well as details of the latest chemical labels that you should be aware of.

What are chemical identification labels and when do I need them?

Chemical identification labels are designed to be used on chemicals that could be dangerous if used improperly. Most chemicals used in the workplace will need some form of chemical label to inform users of their particular dangers or requirements.

Using clear, identifiable chemical labels provides a universally understandable code for certain hazards, such as explosive material. These labels are designed using pictograms, which are symbols that are easily understood but are minimal in design. There is usually an accompanying piece of text that outlines in further detail either precautions to be taken or potential risks.

The law designates which chemical identification labels must be used and when. Procurement managers and warehouse managers must stay up to date with the law’s decree to ensure that they are within industry guidelines. Any accidents that occur using an incorrectly labelled product will cause the business’ management to be liable.

As of the 1st of June 2015, legislation covering the classification of chemicals was altered. The United Nations began an initiative to create a more universal chemical labels system. This was to ensure that shipped products would be understood globally and to avoid potentially hazardous situations. The new CLP regulation requires that all users of chemical products conform to the Globally Harmonised System (GHS). Products that include potentially hazardous chemical materials must be relabelled before 2017.

Risks with this product include potential explosions and cryogenic burns if the gas comes into contact with bare skin. These containers should be correctly labelled and protected from heat sources, direct sunlight and pressure points. They should be handled with protective eyewear, a face shield and insulating gloves when being emptied.

What are the latest chemical labels?

pressurised gas This symbol signifies that the product in question contains gas that is pressurised. This chemical label should be applied to products such as gas canisters or fire extinguishers. These gases contained within the product will explode if subjected to heat or undue external pressure. If the product contains gases that are refrigerated, this also applies. Risks with this product include potential explosions and cryogenic burns if the gas comes into contact with bare skin. These containers should be correctly labelled and protected from heat sources, direct sunlight and pressure points. They should be handled with protective eyewear, a face shield and insulating gloves when being emptied.
pressurised gas This chemical label indicates that the product poses hazardous risks to respiratory systems and your general health (particularly internally). The symbol should be accompanied by a more detailed piece of text specifying the risks particular to that product. This chemical label should be applied to products such as petrol, turpentine and particular kinds of oil. Risks with this product include fatal organ damage, damage to fertility, potential genetic defects, and difficulty in breathing. This product should always be used in an area with good ventilation, and inducing vomiting is not recommended should the product be inhaled, as the chemicals may burn the throat. Hospital treatment will be required should the product be ingested.
pressurised gas This symbol signifies a general health hazard or a potential hazard to the ozone layer. Household items will require this label, such as bleach, toilet cleaner and detergent. They should be disposed of properly to avoid environmental damage. Risks include skin irritation after prolonged exposure, and environmental damage if not properly disposed of. Eye, face and hand protection should be worn when using this product, which should be correctly labelled.
pressurised gas This chemical identification label should be used on explosive materials that could potentially be unstable or have a large explosive power, such as fireworks and live ammunition. These should always be left in locked storage and should be kept away from sources of heat.
pressurised gas This chemical label indicates a product that can easily be set alight. It may cover solids, or it may cover vaporous materials. Items that will be covered by this symbol include deodorants and nail polish removers. Risks include fire. Sources of heat and direct sunlight should not come into contact with this product, and smoking around this product should be avoided.
pressurised gas This chemical label indicates that the product is oxidising. This means that when subjected to this product, fire may intensify or cause explosions. Tanks of oxygen and select household cleaners, such as bleach, must be labelled with this symbol. Gloves and eyewear should be worn for protection when using this product.
pressurised gas This chemical label denotes corrosive substances. Cleaning materials and acids, such as ammonia and hydrochloric acid, will bear this symbol. Risks include chemical burns. The correct protective gear must be worn when handling these products, as they may react differently to different types of protection. Skin exposed to this corrosive material should be brushed and washed with water as quickly as possible, and medical treatment should be sought. Corrosive material can be damaging to skin and some types of metal. Some cleaners and acids commonly used in schools, such as hydrochloric acid and ammonia, are corrosive.
pressurised gas This chemical label indicates toxic substances. Typical products include pesticides and biocides. Risks include fatality through skin contact, inhalation or ingestion, with symptoms appearing within 14 days of being exposed. Thorough washing should take place after exposure, with exposed materials being destroyed. If inhalation occurs, fresh air is key until emergency services can be found.
pressurised gas This chemical label on the right indicates a product that can damage the environment and animal populations. This label should be applied to biocides and pesticides. This type of product should be disposed of thoroughly and according to the law, typically by certified chemical disposal companies.

Where can I get the latest chemical labels?

You should ensure that you purchase the correct and latest chemical labels from a reputable supplier. Contact GBF now for all your chemical label requirements.

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