The GHS hazard communication standard includes specific requirements that include specifications for the nine hazard symbols that may be used. Only these nine standardized GHS hazard symbols may be used. Each one of these hazard symbols communicates the existence of a specific type of hazard.
The reason for a Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for communicating chemical hazards is to ensure hazard warning are readily understood in any location in the world. That means much of the information on a GHS label is standardized.
The standardized label elements included in the GHS are:
The symbols, signal words, and hazard statements have all been standardized and assigned to specific hazard categories and classes, as appropriate.
The GHS hazard symbols have been incorporated into pictograms for use on GHS labels. A pictogram is composed of the hazard symbol plus other graphic elements such a border, background patterns or colors which are intended to communicate specific information about the hazard. The pictograms used on health labels include a black hazard symbol on a white background with a red diamond frame. A black frame may be used for shipments within one country. There are different specifications for the pictograms used for transport labels.
If a substance has more than one GHS hazard, there is a GHS precedence scheme for hazard symbols. For health hazards the following principles of precedence apply for symbols:
(a) If the skull and crossbones applies, the exclamation mark should not appear.
(b) If the corrosive symbol applies, the exclamation mark should not appear where it is used for skin or eye irritation.
(c) If the health hazard symbol appears for respiratory sensitization, the exclamation mark should not appear where it is used for skin sensitization or for skin or eye irritation.
Represents explosives, self-reactives and organic peroxides
Represents flammables, self-reactives, pyrophorics, self-heating and substances that emit flammable gas
This hazard symbol indicates oxidizers and organic peroxides
Indicates gases under pressure
Used on substances that have an acute toxicity
Identifies materials that have acute toxicity, or cause skin irritation, eye irritation or is a skin sensitizer.
This hazard symbol identifies carcinogens, respiratory sensitizers, reproductive toxicity, target organ toxicity and germ cell mutagens.
Materials that cause eye corrosion, skin corrosion or is corrosive to metal.
These nine hazard symbols are the only hazard symbols that should be used on GHS health labels.
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