FAQ on GHS Pictograms

GHS stands for Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.

The GHS is an initiative by the United Nations aiming to harmonize chemical hazard communication. This includes harmonized criteria for classification of substances and mixtures according to their physical, health, and environmental hazards, as well as harmonized hazard communication elements.

The first version of GHS was published in 2003 and updated each 2 years since.

Gas cylinder

    Gas cylinder

    Example of hazard statement: Contains gas under pressure; may explode when heated
    Example of precautionary statement: Store in a well-ventilated place. Keep cool
Health hazard

    Health hazard

    Example of hazard statement: May cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled
    Example of precautionary statement: In case of inadequate ventilation, wear respiratory protection
Exclamation mark

    Exclamation mark

    Example of hazard statement: Harmful if swallowed May cause and allergic skin reaction
    Example of precautionary statement: Do not eat, drink, or smoke when using this product
    Do not get in eyes, on skin, or on clothing
Skull and crossbones

    Skull and crossbones

    Example of hazard statement: Toxic if swallowed
    Example of precautionary statement: IF SWALLOWED: Immediately call a POISON CENTER or a doctor
Corrosive

    Corrosive

    Example of hazard statement: Causes severe skin burns and eye damage
    Example of precautionary statement: Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection/face protection
Flame

    Flame

    Example of hazard statement: Flammable liquid and vapor
    Example of precautionary statement: Keep away from heat/sparks/open flames/hot surfaces. No smoking
Flame over circle

    Flame over circle

    Example of hazard statement: May intensify fire; oxidizer Example of precautionary statement: Take any precaution to avoid mixing with combustibles
Exploding bomb

    Exploding bomb

    Example of hazard statement: Heating may cause an explosion Example of precautionary statement: Explosion risk in case of fire
Environment

    Environment

    Example of hazard statement: Toxic to aquatic life, with long-lasting effects Example of precautionary statement: Avoid release to the environment

Requirements of label

Required Description
Pictograms GHS implemented 9 hazard pictograms
Signal word "Danger" or "Warning"
Hazard statements A statement assigned to a hazard class and category that describes the nature of the hazard(s) of a chemical, including the degree of hazard (where appropriate)
Precautionary statements A phrase that describes recommended measures to be taken to minimize or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposure to a hazardous chemical or improper storage or handling of a hazardous chemical

I'm working in a lab. What must I do?
The GHS regulation implies you must:

  • Inform and train your staff
  • Apply the labeling to your own mixtures
  • Update workplace safety guidelines and other documentation

See the information below and visit the United Nations webpage (see External Links below) for more information.

United Nations webpage - about GHS