Exploring GHS Labels: A Vital Tool for Chemical Safety

GHS Label

Exploring GHS Labels: A Vital Tool for Chemical Safety

Posted on the 7th of Aug 2023 by Westlab

GHS Label is a crucial safety tool in our globalized world. It presents information such as the nature of the chemical hazard, precautions to be taken, and contact details of the supplier, among others. Its main goal is to convey clear, concise information about the potential hazards of a chemical, improving safety and ensuring the protection of health across the globe.

This blog aims to provide an extensive understanding of the GHS label and their significance.

What is a GHS Label? 

The GHS label is the Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.  It is a globally recognized tool designed to convey hazards associated with various chemical substances and mixtures through easily understandable symbols and statements. The objective of standard chemical labeling is to standardize the classification and labeling of chemicals globally to improve safety, protect health, and facilitate trade.

History of the GHS System of Labeling

The history of the GHS system for labels is tied to a broader international effort to improve safety and health in the handling and use of chemicals. Before the GHS was adopted, numerous systems for classifying chemicals and communicating hazards were used worldwide. These different systems could lead to confusion. 

Therefore, the United Nations (UN) began to develop the GHS in the early 1990s to create a single, globally harmonized system for the classification of chemicals. The first edition of the GHS was published in 2003 and has been revised regularly since then to reflect new scientific knowledge and consensus.

Elements of A Globally Standardized Chemical Label

A chemical label provides critical information about a chemical or chemical product. The label consists of several elements, which are the basic requirements for communicating different types of information. These GHS label requirements are as follows:

Product Identifier

This identifier refers to the unique name or number used for the exact form of the chemical. The product identifier may also include details of the chemical's components.

Signal Words

These are used to indicate the severity of the hazard posed by the chemical. Two commonly used signal words in GHS are ‘‘Danger’’ for the most severe hazards and ‘‘Warning’’ for less severe hazards.


Pictograms are simple, universally understood symbols representing specific hazards associated with various chemicals. There are nine different pictograms, each represented by a distinctive symbol inside a red diamond border. Examples include a flame for flammables, a skull with crossbones for acute toxicity, or an exclamation mark for irritants.

Hazard Statements

Hazard and precautionary statements are lab safety features important for labeling. These describe the nature of the chemical hazards and, where appropriate, the degree of hazard. For example, "Causes skin irritation" or "Very toxic to aquatic life."

Supplier Information

GHS labels for secondary containers include the manufacturer's or distributor's name, address, and telephone number.

Functions of Globally Standardized Chemical Labels 

The chemical label plays a pivotal role in safeguarding our well-being and environment when dealing with hazardous substances.

The role of globally standardized chemical labels is as follows:

Hazard Identification

They help in the identification of the hazard class and category of a chemical. 

Risk Communication

They communicate the severity of the hazard posed by a chemical substance by using words such as ‘‘Danger” or “Warning’’. For example, a label might indicate that a chemical is highly flammable, alerting a worker to keep it away from heat sources.

Product Information

GHS labels include a product identifier, linking the substance to a specific Safety Data Sheet (SDS), offering more detailed chemical information.

Significance of Globally Standardized Chemical Labels 

Globally standardized chemical labels are critical in promoting safety and health in workplace and home environments where chemicals are used. Their importance is as follows: 

Global Standardization

The implementation of standard chemical labels has established a globally consistent approach to classifying and labeling chemicals, reducing confusion and increasing safety.

Facilitating Trade

GHS labels facilitate international chemical trade by standardizing regulations and expectations for chemical classification and labeling. This consistency reduces the need for testing and helps prevent trade barriers that could arise from having different standards in different countries.

Environment Protection

GHS labels can also help prevent environmental damage by clearly communicating environmental hazards. Labels may include information on a substance's potential for contributing to ozone layer depletion, aquatic toxicity, or other environmental hazards.

Public Awareness

It also helps in educating the public about chemical hazards so they can take precautionary measures accordingly. 

Emergency Response

In emergency situations, labels provide critical information to responders about the hazards they may be facing and how best to protect themselves and the public.


GHS labels are an essential tool in ensuring the safety of people. In workplaces, standard chemical safety labels contribute to health and safety by:

  • Ensuring all workers understand the hazards associated with chemicals they may be handling, thus reducing the risk of occupational illnesses and injuries.
  • Guiding workers in safely handling, storing, and disposing of chemicals.
  • Aiding in the correct use of personal protective equipment by indicating the type of hazard (e.g., corrosive, toxic, etc.) that the chemical presents.

In homes, standard chemical labels improve safety by:

  • Helping consumers understand the risks associated with household chemicals like cleaning supplies, paint, and pesticides.
  • Guiding the safe storage of such products, for example, keeping them out of reach of children or away from food items.
  • Providing vital first aid information in case of accidental exposure.

In summary, globally standardized chemical labels are more than just stickers on a bottle; they are a critical tool to ensure the safe handling, storage, and transport of chemicals. They enhance our ability to handle chemicals safely, protect our health, and safeguard our environment. 

To ensure chemical safety in your laboratory or industry, get globally standardized chemical labels from Westlab Canada. We offer a comprehensive range of top-tier laboratory supplies and chemical labels designed with clarity, durability, and global standards in mind. Our labels meet all the GHS criteria, helping you communicate potential hazards and safety precautions to protect your team and streamline your operations.

Shop GHS Label from Westlab Canada and take the first step towards improved lab safety today.



2023-08-07 05:39:00
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