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Understanding GHS Labels

GHS was designed to make chemical hazards easy to understand and identify for at-risk workers across the globe.

Chemical manufacturers and importers must determine the hazards of the chemicals they transport.

And that’s why the Globally Harmonized System, or GHS, was created.

The GHS was designed to make chemical hazards easy to understand and identify for at-risk workers across the globe.

The GHS divides hazards simply, into two categories—physical hazards and health hazards.

  • There are nine pictograms, or symbols, under the Globally Harmonized System which signal specific chemical hazards. The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires eight of these pictograms, the exception being the environmental pictogram, as environmental hazards are not within OSHA’s jurisdiction.
  • Development of the symbols was guided by the need to communicate hazards visually, to avoid confusion over language and translation.
  • These hazard pictograms must be in the shape of a diamond. 
  • And pictograms are required to have red borders, though a black border may be used in some circumstances, where chemical are restricted to certain work environments. 

The hazard pictograms and their corresponding hazards are as follows:

  • Health Hazard
  • Flame
  • Exclamation Mark
  • Gas Cylinder 
  • Corrosion
  • Exploding Bomb 
  • Flame Over Circle
  • Environment
  • Skull & Crossbones

It is important to understand the GHS because all hazardous chemicals shipped after June 1, 2015, must be labeled with specified elements of the GHS.

Until next time, stay positive and stay safe.