OSHA Chemical Safety

Why Do I Need GHS Chemical Labels?

Primary Container vs. Secondary Container Labels

The globally harmonized system (GHS) of chemical identification and labeling is here. HCL Labels will dive in to the finer details of federal chemical identification regulations to make sense of it all.

There are two types of chemical containers: primary and secondary. Primary containers come straight from the manufacturer. They come in drums, tubs, pails, bottles, or other larger canisters that are pre-labeled with the chemical identifier. The primary container labels are required to include the manufacturer information. 

Secondary containers are commonplace in the work environment. Often times, workplace operations require transferring chemicals from the original labeled container into a smaller secondary container (beaker, flask, or bottle). Additionally, certain manufacturing processes require hazardous materials to be transferred into larger containers (plating and finishing operations, semiconductor, and pharmaceutical manufacturing, etc.)

The secondary container GHS labels do not require the manufacturer information. HCL Labels offers chemical and solvent resistant, adhesive vinyl GHS-labels to simplify your chemical organization and labeling. 

Labeling Requirements for Secondary Containers

Secondary chemical containers are required to be labeled with a GHS chemical label, if any of the following events occur:

  • The material is not used within the work shift of the individual who makes the transfer.
  • The worker 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 worker who filled the container. 
  • Labels on portable containers are not required if the worker who made the chemical transfer uses all of the contents during the work shift.

If you use chemicals in the workplace, chances are that you need GHS labels. These labels protect against chemical accidents, inform workers of immediate chemical hazards, and keep companies compliant with federal OSHA/GHS regulations.



OSHA hazard communication federal standard [29 CFR 1910.1200(f)(1)] states the following: 

“Employers must ensure that no worker uses, stores, or allows any other person to use or store any hazardous substance in a laboratory if the container (including bags, barrels, bottles, boxes, cans, cylinders, drums and reaction vessels) does not meet the following labeling requirements in OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard.”

  • The identity of the chemical and appropriate hazard warnings must be shown on the label.
  • The hazard warning must provide users with an immediate understanding of the primary health and/or physical hazard(s) of the chemical through the use of 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 “primary container” label.
  • The hazard label message must be legible, permanently displayed and written in English.

HCL Labels specializes in producing secondary container GHS chemical labels, and has the largest library of ready-made GHS labels in the industry.  



Visit www.hclco.com to shop for GHS chemical, waste, DOT, lab, & workplace safety labels. Enter your information below to have an HCL specialist contact you.

Protect the workforce and stay compliant.

OSHA QuickFacts. Laboratory Safety Labeling and Transfer of Chemicals. Web. OSHA 3410 8/2011. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. http://www.osha.gov. 19 April, 2017.

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