Safety Labels

Safety labels are designed to provide an instant safety reminder for your facility or workplace. They warn workers of impending dangers when operating certain equipment and are used to prevent accidents and fatal injuries from occurring.  Thanks to OSHA’s mandated regulations, employers are now required to ensure that no worker uses, stores, or allows anyone else to use or store any hazardous substance in a laboratory, if the container does not meet OSHA safety labeling requirements. Safety labels are required on all types of containers, including bags, barrels, bottles, boxes, cans, cylinders, drums and reaction vessels. These requirements were established by OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard to mandate the following:

  • The identity of the chemical and the appropriate hazard warnings must be shown on the safety label.
  • The safety label must have a hazard warning that provides the primary health and/or physical hazard(s) of the material by using words, pictures, symbols, or any combination of these elements.
  • The name and address of the manufacturer, importer or other responsible party must be included on the safety label.
  • The safety label message must be legible, permanently displayed, and written in English.

The use of use of secondary containers such as bottles, flasks, cans or beakers are frequently required when handling with chemicals in laboratories.  Secondary containers must comply with the safety labeling requirements listed above if that secondary container is outside the control of the person who made the transfer. These standards are applicable for any of the existing conditions such as when material is not used within the work shift of the person who made the transfer, anyone who made the transfer leaves the work area, when the container is moved to another work area and is no longer in the possession of the person who filled the container, or when the on portable containers are not required if the person who made the transfer uses all of the contents during the work shift. When a secondary container does not meet the above requirements, a safety label needs to be applied on it. A safety label must provide the identity of hazardous chemicals in the container and the current hazards of the chemicals.

The label on a container that enters the workplace may not be removed, altered or defaced. If a chemical container's original safety label needs to be replaced, the new safety label must contain the same information as the original. Only use labels, ink and markings that are not soluble in the liquid content of the container. There are labeling materials available that resist moisture, temperature extremes, petroleum products and many solvents. There are even tapes and ribbons made from material that enable safety labels that resist harsh chemical environments.

lLabels required by OSHA are the first labels that come to mind when we think of safety labels. These include safety labels specified by the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) for marking containers holding hazardous materials. OSHA also recommends that safety labels should be used in various circumstances such as for confined and enclosed spaces. But there is more to safety labels than just OSHA approved labels.. ANSI required labeling, such as pipe markers, are also often considered to be safety labels. Other organizations such as NFPA, IIAR and CGA also publish codes that require safety labels. But there is still more to safety labels. There are many other types of  labels throughout your facility that should be considered as safety labels. Every message is important and is in some way related to safety.

Take, for example, housekeeping labels. These are labels with messages such as:

  • Place Trash In Proper Receptacle
  • Keep This Area Clean
  • Clean Lunchroom Sink After Use

These labels are not just about keeping things in good conditions. They are labels with an important safety message. If your workplace is a mess, it is hazardous, and people may get hurt or sick. Most safety labels are printed with the message displayed as "Safety First." A good safety slogan gets people to stop for a second and think. This makes it memorable and more effective.  A safety slogan urges people to think, and understand the consequences of unsafe behavior and activities. No one wants to get hurt on the job. Unfortunately, we may rush, take a shortcut, or think we can get away with an unsafe practice just this one time.  Signs and labels with safety slogans remind us that we must always be safe. If you keep safety first in your thoughts, you’ll start to see how every label is a safety label. Not only that, you'll start to see new places that were not previously apparent, where a safety label is needed. Labels and signs pointing people to the nearest exit are safety labels. Labels telling workers to not block exits with boxes are safety labels. Labels identifying offices and conference rooms are safety labels – they help people get to the right place during an emergency.

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