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The SPD Detective: Finding Clues in Chemical Labels - Part 2

A previous post highlighted the importance of using label directions as the chemical IFU and why this is often an issue during surveys. Chemical labels also offer important clues for safe use. Chemical manufacturers are required to provide safety information on the product label which may be in several different locations.

Look for three important clues to safety on product labels. First, look for a “Hazard and Precautionary Statements” section that will communicate precautions, protective equipment and what to do in the event of spills or splashes. Protective equipment is vital to prevent chemical exposures.

Next, look for Pictograms and Signal Words. Pictograms are diamond-shaped graphics outlined in red with a symbol inside and intended to help non-readers or language barriers. The Signal Word - Warning for lower risk or Danger for higher risk should appear near the pictogram. For example, if a detergent is classified as a mild irritant, the pictogram is an exclamation point with Warning as the Signal Word.

Some very low toxicity chemicals may not be required to show Pictograms or Signal Words on labels.

Third, look for the emergency 800 phone number in case of chemical exposures. This may be found with the Hazard statement or near the “How to Use” instructions.

Follow the clues to safe use of chemicals on your product labels. Feel more confident about understanding pictograms with a quick training session using labels of products in use before the next inevitable chemical splash emergency.


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