How to Use Precautionary Statements Correctly on GHS Labels

Little Pro on 2018-06-07

GHS precautionary statements are standard phrases that describe measures to minimize or prevent adverse effects of chemicals. They are usually required to label chemical packages or containers along with other elements of GHS labels such as product identifier, pictogram, signal word and hazard statements. In this article, we will show you how to correctly use precautionary statements on chemical labels.

Hide P-codes on Chemical Labels?

P-codes (i.e, P301, P501) are not required for precautionary statements on GHS labels. Please feel free to exclude them to save some space for labels. Most of countries allow P-codes to be omitted for GHS labels(one exception is Mexico).

6 Precautionary Statements Rule?

Due to the limited size of a label, some jurisdictions have limited the number of precautionary statements on the label to make it more readable. On the other hand, some countries require disclosure of all precautionary statements. For example, EU and Malyasia require that no more than 6 precautionary statements shall appear on the label unless they are necessary. Although US does not have such a rule, they allow suppliers to exclude uncessary precautionary statements.

Omit Some Precautionary Statements from Labels?

Many jurisdictions (EU, China, Korea) allow some GHS label elements (i.e. precautionary statements) to be omitted from a label for small containers. Please note that the definition of small container varies.

For jurisdictions that do have GHS label rules for small containers, you may try one of the following approaches to omit certain precautionary statements. At least it works for US OSHA.

  • Where a chemical is classified for a number of hazards, and the precautionary statements are similar, the most stringent must be included on the label and the less stringent ones may be omitted.
  • If the SDS supplier can demonstrate that a precautionary statement is inappropriate for a specific chemical, it may omit the precautionary statement from the label.

Combine Precautionary Statements?

Some jurisdictions (i.e, US OSHA) also allow precautionary statements to be combined or consolidated to save label space. For example, “Keep away from heat, sparks and open flame,” “Store in a well-ventilated place” and “Keep cool” can be combined to read “Keep away from heat, sparks and open flame and store in a cool, well-ventilated place.

Incomplete Precautionary Statements and Full Stop Sign?

It is very common to see incomplete precautionary statements containing backslashes(/)  or 3 full stop sign (...) in SDSs and on labels. However, not all jurisdictions allow that. It is recommended that you select the most appropriate and complete statements for your SDSs and labels.

  • P241 Use explosion-proof [electrical/ventilating/lighting/.../] equipment.
  • P264 Wash ... thoroughly after handling.

Canda's WHIMS 2015 rules specifically mentioned that:

  • When a backslash or diagonal mark [/] appears in a precautionary statement , it indicates that  the most appropriate words or phrases must be selected and included in the precautionary statement. For example, "Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection/face protection" could read "Wear protective gloves and eye protection".
  • When three full stops [...] appear in a precautionary statement, they indicate that all applicable conditions are not listed.  For example, "Use explosion-proof [electrical/ventilating/lighting/...] equipment", the use of ... indicates that other equipment may be specified.
  • Three full stops must not appear on the label.
  • Ref: Canda WHIMS 2015 Labelling Requirement

Recommended Readings

GHS SDS and Labelling

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 Tags: Topics - GHSGHS SDS and Labelling