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Red Diamonds on HazCom 2012 Labels

By Brian McFadden

hazcom ghs label example

Six elements of information must be present on the typical HazCom 2012 chemical label, as listed in OSHA’s regulations. These elements are the product identifier and signal word, the hazard statements and precautionary statements, the supplier identification, and the hazard pictograms. All of these elements must be “prominently displayed” on the container.

Pictograms with Style

Part of that “prominent display” is a specific style for the pictograms. Each pictogram must appear in black, on a white background, with a red diamond-shaped border. (OSHA calls this a “square-on-point” design.) This arrangement is easy to spot and recognize. Presenting the symbols in a consistent way will help ensure that workers understand what the symbols mean.

However, this requirement means that each label needs to have two printed colors (red and black) on a white background. Most industrial printers are designed to print in a single color. With that restriction, how can you make compliant labels?

Matched Label Stocks

While common industrial printers can only lay down one color, that doesn’t mean the final result is limited to that one color. Pre-printed label stock can be provided with a number of red diamond outlines already in place. Load the right supply into your printer, add the chemical’s details and pictograms in black, and you get a complete and compliant label.

According to OSHA’s HazCom 2012 rules, every pictogram on a label needs a red border, but no red border can appear without a pictogram in it. As a result, you may need one roll of stock pre-printed with two diamonds on each label, one roll with three diamonds, and so on. You’ll need to match the label stock to the chemical that you’re labeling.

Example of a label with two pictograms, printed on stock with two diamonds.

Blacked-Out Diamonds

But what if you only have pre-printed label stock with three diamonds, and your chemical only needs two pictograms?

In a letter of interpretation, OSHA responded to a possible workaround for this problem. An employer had a stockpile of pre-printed label stock with too many diamonds. The employer suggested printing a solid black section on the label, covering up the unwanted red diamond. No pictogram, no diamond, no problem.

According to the OSHA response, this is an acceptable solution! While the result isn’t as clean and professional-looking as a label with the right number of diamonds, it allows employers to print compliant labels using a single type of pre-printed material.

Example of a label with two pictograms, printed on stock with three diamonds.

How Do I Do That?

This approach can be done automatically with the DuraSuite software from Graphic Products. Just follow these steps:

  1. Find the entry for your chemical with DuraSuite’s search function, or enter the data for the chemical normally.
  2. Open the Tools menu from the menu bar, and choose Options. A new window will open.
  3. In this window, go to the Module Settings tab, and check the box for “Force template to specific symbol count.”
  4. Choose the number of diamonds that are pre-printed on your label stock.
  5. Click OK to apply the change and close the window.

You’ll see the label design change to show the number of red diamond outlines that you selected. Any unused diamonds will be covered in black. This design can be printed on any of the DuraLabel industrial label printers, saving you the trouble of changing out different rolls of label stock for different chemicals.

Multi-Color Printing

If you don’t like the look of black sections on your chemical label, but you don’t want to deal with different label stocks for different chemicals, there’s still one more approach. You could use a multi-color printer for your HazCom 2012 labeling.

This opens up a different problem, though. Most multi-color or full-color printers don’t produce durable results. A typical inkjet office printer, for example, can print out a compliant label. But if that label gets wet, the printing will run or smear, leaving an unreadable mess. The paper label materials that these printers typically use won’t stand up to spills or abrasion. How do you ensure that your chemical labels are durable enough to do the job?

This is where the DuraLabel Catalyst comes in. This system is specifically built for industrial-quality label printing. It uses a polyester-based label stock and prints using a specially-engineered set of toners. Labels created with the Catalyst have been independently certified for compliance with British Standard (BS) 5609, which involves merciless weather testing in seawater. Even though they’re printed with a multi-color system, these labels stand up to severe environments.

Whether you use matched label stocks, blacked-out diamonds, or a multi-color approach, our support team is ready to help you with your HazCom chemical labeling.