Permanent Container Safety Labels
OSHA requires employers to ensure that no worker uses, stores, or allows any other person 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 are given in OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard [29 CFR 1910.1200(f)(1)], and include:
- 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.
Secondary Container Safety Labels
Often, laboratory use of chemicals requires the use of secondary containers such as bottles, flasks, cans or beakers. 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. For example, if any of the following conditions exist:
- The material is not used within the work shift of the person who made the transfer.
- The person who made the transfer leaves the work area.
- The container is moved to another work area and is no longer in the possession of the person who filled the container.
- Labels 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 to the secondary container. This label must provide the identity of the hazardous chemical(s) in the container and the hazards the chemical(s) present.
Replacement Container Safety Labels
The label on a container entering the workplace must not be removed, altered or defaced. If a chemical container's original safety label must 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 DuraChem tapes and ribbons for making safety labels that resist harsh chemical environments.
All Labels are Safety Labels
Safety labels are more than the ANSI specified danger, warning and caution labels. Every label is a safety label.
The first type of label that comes to mind when we hear the term "safety labels" are the labels required by OSHA. These include safety labels specified by the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) for marking containers holding hazardous materials. OSHA also specifies that safety labels be used in various circumstances such as for confined and enclosed spaces (OSHA Standard 1915.16). But there's more to safety 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’s still more to safety labels.
There are many other types of labels throughout your facility, and they all 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 looking good. They are safety labels with an important safety message. If your workplace is a mess, it is hazardous, and people may get hurt or sick.