About Our Materials

Occasionally we get customers who want to know why we use different materials for different labels and what the difference is between them.

HCL offers a variety of materials that customers can choose from: Vinyl, Tyvek and paper are our most common printing materials.

To determine which material is right for you, consider what you will be using the label for, where the label will be placed and what conditions the label will endure throughout its use.  

Vinyl is the most popular material we sell. Our GHS labels are printed on vinyl because vinyl offers all the properties needed to make a long-lasting, high quality label. Vinyl is highly tear resistant and easily malleable to conform perfectly to the product you wish to adhere it too. Vinyl is also chemical and weather resistant. The diversity this material offers makes it idea for labels in everyday use.

Paper labels are popular for labeling materials that will not be exposed to heavy usage and chemicals that can diminish the quality of the label. If you are in need of labels for short term usage like on a box that will be recycled after one-time use, paper material is the way to go. Paper is also easily written on and holds ink well. If you’re needing to write on your labels then this may be the best choice for you.

Tyvek is the premier material for write-in hazardous waste labels. This is because Tyvek is extremely durable and can endure the toughest conditions. Tyvek is made from high density polyethylene fibers which create a tear proof material and make it resistant to moisture, puncture and is even unaffected by majority of chemicals. Although Tyvek is highly durable, it offers a great surface for writing on and holds ink well, making it ideal for our HazWaste labels.

No matter the material you choose, all of HCL’s labels are of the highest quality.
If you ever have questions regarding our materials, please feel free to shoot us an email at hclco@hclco.com.

Why do we need OSHA pictograms?

In this blog post I will explain each of the 8 new HazCom pictograms, their meanings and why they are now required.

In June of last year, the OSHA HCS started to require pictograms on chemical hazard labels. These pictograms are meant to easily alert users to the potential dangers they may be exposed to while handling the chemicals.

Each pictogram consists of a symbol on a white background framed within a red border. These color specifications are the only color specific requirements for the new labeling system.

The pictograms on each individual label are determined by the chemical hazard classification named in the specific chemical’s SDS and each represents a distinct hazard. (1)

There are 8 mandatory pictograms and 1 non-mandatory.

Health HazardThe chemical is a physical or health hazard



-Reproductive Toxicity

-Respiratory Sensitizer

-Target Organ Toxicity

-Aspiration Toxicity

FlameThe chemical may burst into flames




-Emits Flammable Gas


-Organic Peroxides

Exclamation MarkThe chemical may cause immediate, serious health effects

-Irritant (skin and eye)

-Skin Sensitizer

-Acute Toxicity (harmful)

-Narcotic Effects

-Respiratory Tract Irritant


Gas CylinderThe chemical contains pressurized gas that can explode or damage health if ruptured, heated or is leaking

-Gases Under Pressure


CorrosionChemical may cause physical or health hazard that can easily damage eyes and skin

Skin Corrosion/Burns

-Eye Damage

– Corrosive to Metals

Exploding BombThe chemical can create uncontrolled reactions, like blowing up



-Organic Peroxides

Flame Over CircleThe chemical may cause other materials to ignite or burn quickly



Skull and CrossbonesThe chemical is a serious physical or health hazard or a poison

-Acute Toxicity (fatal or toxic)

BONUS pictogram!

Environment (non-mandatory)-the chemical can be hazardous to fish and other wildlife that live in the water

This pictogram is not mandatory because environmental pictograms fall under EPA regulations.

-Aquatic Toxicity


The use of pictograms is the most significant change for labeling in the US workplace. GHS pictograms are not the same as DOT placards and are not interchangeable. They can coincide, but may not contradict each other.

In conclusion, pictograms are meant to be useful illustrations that visually show what is being described verbally.



What does the NFPA diamond mean?

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) diamond is meant to give general hazard information on the chemical that is being labeled.

There are 4 squared sections within the diamond, each with its own color: red, blue, yellow and white.

These colors correspond to specific hazards:

Red- Flammability Hazard

Blue- Health Hazard

Yellow- Instability Hazard

White- Special Hazard


The red, blue and yellow sections each have a corresponding number ranging from 0 to 4. The white section is left blank and used only to denote fire fighting measures and hazards.

0- Minimal Hazard

1- Slight Hazard

2- Moderate Hazard

3- Serious Hazard

4- Severe Hazard

For each different color, the numbers have varying meaning.

For example, the blue box represents health hazards, so a 4 would mean that the substance can be highly toxic, sometimes even lethal. But, a red box rated a 4 would mean the substance is highly flammable.

The white section is reserved for special notations mainly in the form of symbols. These special notations could be used to indicate the substance is corrosive (COR) or acidic (ACID) or not to be used with water ( W).

Let’s go over an example.

Oxygen gas is colorless and tasteless. It supports everyday life and although it supports the burning of combustible materials, pure Oxygen is nonflammable. Therefore, the NFPA diamond would be labeled as follows:

Red- 0, this is because Oxygen itself is not flammable

Blue- 3, this is because 100% Oxygen can cause serious or permanent injury. Specifically when inhaled, it can cause nausea, dizziness, irritation of the lungs and possible pneumonia.

Yellow- 0, this is because Oxygen is stable, even under fire conditions.

White- OX, this is because Oxygen possesses oxidizing properties especially when combined with other substances.


The NFPA diamond is meant to provide a simple, easily understood system for identifying specific hazards and their severity that might occur during an emergency response. They are typically labeled outside of buildings, on doors, on tanks and visible to emergency personnel in the event of a fire or spill.

The NFPA diamond is different from both the Department of Transportation (DOT) placard and the OSHA HazCom/GHS Standard. Each of the three hazard identification systems are to be used in a specific transport, storage, handling or information purpose.





First blog post | OSHA/GHS FAQ’s

We decided to start this blog to enhance our communication with our customers, Twitter followers and to easily answer questions that our customers ask and we know others may be thinking the same thing.

Many of our customers come to us with questions about our products, their uses, and why they may need them. These questions are asked frequently and so our first blog post will be about our most Frequently Asked Questions regarding the newest OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (Hazcom) and OSHA’s adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

So, without further ado:


1) Are HCL’s GHS labels compliant?

Yes, HCL’s GHS labels are fully compliant with OSHA’s adoption of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

2) Why don’t HCL’s GHS labels look exactly like the sample on the GHS website?

The actual label format or layout is not specified in the GHS.  As long as the GHS hazard pictograms, signal word and hazard statements are located together on the label, the label format can vary.  GHS publications show several “sample” format, but adopting their design is not required.

3) Why don’t HCL’s GHS labels need the Manufacturer’s address?

HCL’s GHS labels are “secondary container” labels, they are not meant to replace the manufacturer’s label on the original product (1).

What are the requirements for labels under the revised 2012 OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom)?

Labels require the following elements: a pictogram, a signal word, physical hazard statement as well as a precautionary statement, response, storage and disposal statements.

4)  Are there color or size requirements for GHS labels?  

The actual layout and label format is not specified in the GHS.
The only color requirements are as follows:
“Pictograms shall be in the shape of a square set at a point and shall include a black hazard symbol on a white background with a red frame sufficiently wide to be clearly visible” (2).

5) In what applications should GHS labels be used?

GHS labels must be used to identify all hazardous materials (chemicals that may pose a physical or health hazard) and their specific hazards.  All secondary containers in the workplace must be marked with OSHA/GHS compliant labels.

6)  Is the NFPA diamond required on a GHS label?

No, the NFPA diamond is not required on GHS labels. GHS allows the option of providing supplemental information related to the hazard of chemicals.  The NFPA diamond may be placed on labels if it does not contradict the information required by the GHS (3).
(1) Appendix C.2 https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/appendix_c.pdf and https://www.osha.gov/Publications/laboratory/OSHAquickfacts-lab-safety-labeling-chemical-transfer.pdf 
(2)Appendix C.2.3.1 https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/appendix_c.pdf 
(3) https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/hazcom-faq.html#collapse10