What to Know About Hazardous Chemical Signs

Our Hazardous Chemical Signs Compliance – Resource Bulletin will help you understand some of the rules and regulations regarding sign requirements for identifying and handling chemicals that pose a risk to people and property.

Topics include:

  • Workplace labels and signs
  • NFPA format
  • Basic layout
  • Hazchem blanks
  • Chemical identity
  • Hazard ratings
  • GHS compliance
  • Links to relevant regulations

Click the image to open this bulletin as a pdf file.

Bulletin Overview

“Hazchem” is an acronym for “hazardous chemicals.” The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) defines a hazardous chemical as any chemical which can cause a physical or health hazard. Another acronym, “hazmat,” stands for “hazardous materials,” and is synonymous with hazchem in regulations addressing the hazards of chemicals in the workplace. (HCS 1910.1200.d)

Given the rather broad definition of hazchem, the presence of hazchem in the workplace is widespread. In addition to requiring manufacturers of hazchem to label their products prior to shipment, OSHA also requires that all employers notify workers of the hazard risks hazchem may pose in the workplace through training programs, hazchem labels, and safety data sheets. The regulations detailing these communication standards are found in the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). They have been dubbed “Right to Know” regulations since employees have the need and right to know which hazchem they are exposed to in the workplace. (1910.1200.f.5-6)

The HCS has recently been revised to adopt the guidelines set forth for hazchem classification and labeling by the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The GHS is a global initiative with the goal of having one safety standard for the global economy. Full implementation of the revised HCS was to be completed by 6/1/2016. It is important that employers read the standard carefully to understand how it impacts their particular workplace environment. (HCS1910.1200.b.1)