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6 Tips to Ensure GHS Compliance Cheat Sheet by

6 Tips to Ensure GHS Compliance for Smaller, Down-Packed Chemical Container Labels
system     tips     compliance     ghs     globally     harmonized

Introd­uction - Globally Harmonized System

In the United States, OSHA set a June 1 deadline for end users to update their workplace chemical labels. If compliance is lacking, industrial end users must be prepared to document for OSHA their good faith efforts to become compliant, including an expected timeline for achieving it.

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) was establ­ished by the United Nations to create a unified system for identi­fying and commun­icating hazardous chemicals. According to OSHA, the new standard covers over 43 million workers who produce or handle hazardous chemicals in more than 5 million workplaces across the country.

1) GHS-co­mpliant safety data sheets & labels

Have GHS-co­mpliant safety data sheets and labels and train workers to handle hazardous chemicals properly. On each GHS label, six items of data are required: product name or identi­fier, hazard statement, signal word, GHS pictogram symbols, a precau­tionary statement and supplier inform­ation.

Instead of the familiar black and white pictogram symbols previously used in safety labeling, GHS labels now require pictogram symbols that convey hazard inform­ation with a red diamond border.

2) Label all secondary container

If a chemical is supplied to the workplace with a GHS label, it must be mainta­ined. If the chemical is transf­erred to a secondary container, such as a tank or spray bottle that stays in the workplace, employers may label it with inform­ation from the original GHS shipping label or safety data sheet.

However, employers may choose to use an alternate system such as the National Fire Protection Associ­ation’s (NFPA) Standard 704 or the American Coatings Associ­ation (ACA)’s Hazardous Materials Identi­fic­ation System (HMIS). If using an alternate system, the employer must ensure the inform­ation is consistent with GHS and that workers understand specific physical and health hazards.

If a chemical is transf­erred to a portable secondary container – such as a dropper bottle – for use only by the person who transf­erred it during the same work shift, a label is not required because it is considered “immediate use.”

3) Printing labels on demand

Printing labels on demand can help you keep up with changes. For facilities currently using HMIS or NFPA labels for in-plant contai­ners, related written docume­ntation and training, the question is how to achieve GHS compliance and integrate it with HMIS or NFPA, which have been used for decades.

Though differ­ences exist in GHS, HMIS and NFPA, such as opposite numbering for GHS level of hazard, OSHA allows employers to use HMIS and NFPA in the workplace as long as they are consistent with GHS (HCS 2012) and workers are properly trained for GHS.

Implem­enting GHS labeling can seem daunting to industrial end users, but does not have to be. Many are turning to flexible options, such as indust­ria­l-grade labels, that allow printing durable GHS, HMIS or hybrid labels on demand with existing laser printers and certain inkjet printers.

Unlike standard labels, industrial labels are used in harsh enviro­nments like wareho­uses, manufa­cturing facilities and in the field, so they must be very durable and able to withstand exposure to chemicals, abrasion, tearing, moisture, sunlight and extreme temper­atures.

4) Meet rugged GHS industrial requir­ements

Meet rugged GHS industrial requir­ements to stay compliant. The challenge is that to be GHS compliant, labels must stay reliably affixed without fading or becoming unreadable despite harsh indoor or outdoor conditions including exposure to chemicals, moisture and spills. Some industrial label companies have designed their labels to meet rigorous GHS requir­ements, with products that are chemical resistant, tear-r­esi­stant and abrasi­on-­res­istant, and constr­ucted with a marine­-grade adhesive that is waterproof and passes a 90-day seawater submersion adhesion test.

Unlike office labels, which crack and harden in harsh condit­ions, the GHS labels are UV-res­istant with two or more years of outdoor UV life. They also are temper­atu­re-­res­istant, can be applied as low as 10° F and used between -20° F to 220° F when printed from color laser printers or -40° F to 300° F when printed from pigmen­t-based inkjet printers.

5) Take advantage of free, label-­pri­nting software

Some companies provide such GHS-, HMIS- and NFPA-c­omp­liant label software at no cost. The software allows employees to create and print their own GHS and HMIS labels from pre-de­signed templates. They can create on-demand labels step-b­y-step at their desk, as well as create GHS and HMIS hybrid labels capable of satisfying both systems. Most employees find such a process intuitive, since it resembles creating an office document from pre-de­signed templates.

The software includes the pictograms and GHS-co­mpliant statements needed for GHS labeling; allows custom­izable text, as well as insertion of company logo or other images; generation of of barcodes; and a sequential numbering feature to add lot numbers or other variable data.

6) Choose GHS labels that work with the full range

Choose GHS labels that work with the full range of container sizes and container surface types. GHS and HMIS labels are available in a range of sizes to fit drums, totes, pails, cans, jugs, containers and even small bottles. They can be applied to a variety of surfaces such as metal, plastic, glass, ceramic, polyca­rbo­nate, painted surfaces and more.

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