GHS Labeling – The Do’s and Don’ts
Globally Harmonized System Labeling
Globally Harmonized System (GHS) labeling is an important requirement in many facilities. Whether you are looking to implement GHS labeling in a facility for the first time or you are just updating your current visual communication standards it is important to get everything right. In addition to helping to ensure your facility is as safe as possible, following the GHS labeling standards will help ensure you don’t get any fines or penalties from OSHA or other regulatory organizations.
Proper GHS labeling doesn’t just mean putting up the right signs or labels in the right places, however. To get the most out of GHS labeling you will need to make sure you are following many best practices and avoiding common mistakes. The following ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ will help ensure your facility’s GHS labeling is as effective as possible.
DO Make GHS Labeling Part of Your Facility’s Common Language
Talking about GHS labeling on a regular basis and making sure everyone is up to speed concerning what it means and how it can help will ensure that everyone is on board. When people buy into a safety idea like GHS labeling it is going to be far more effective than when it is forced upon them.
When people see information about GHS labeling throughout the facility, talk about it in meetings and generally know that it is an important part of the safety efforts you will find that people will support it much more. The following are some simple tips for making GHS labeling a part of your facility’s common language:
- Discuss in Meetings – If you are having safety meetings, make sure to discuss GHS labeling and how it benefits the facility and employees.
- Put up Visual Reminders – Putting up GHS labeling posters or posters that explain the different GHS pictograms will be a constant reminder so people don’t forget.
- Performance Reviews – Working GHS standards into performance reviews is an easy way to show everyone just how important it is to the facility.
Don’t Be Without Spare Labels or Signs
After putting up GHS labels and signs many facilities think that they are finished the labeling. While GHS labels and signs are typically made with high quality materials, they can get damaged over time. If a label or sign becomes unreadable it is important to get it replaced as quickly as possible. In fact, if OSHA does an inspection and finds that certain signs and labels can’t be easily read they can issue a hefty fine.
There are a couple of different options when it comes to keeping spare labels or signs in your facility. First, you can order a lot of pre-printed labels and signs and keep them in your inventory room to be used as needed. This is an effective option, but it is not always very efficient because you will need to keep at least one of each sign and label on hand at all times.
The other option is to have a high quality printer and labels on site that will allow you to print off replacement signs as needed. For example, the LabelTac 4 Pro can be kept in any office or other area of the facility so that when a new label is needed someone just comes in and prints it off. If you have GHS die-cut labels on site you can create the exact label or sign you need whenever you need it.
Do Keep Up with OSHA Standards
One of the most difficult, yet most important, things that a facility can do when working on GHS labeling is to make sure they are always in compliance with OSHA standards. OSHA is constantly working to improve the way things are done in facilities throughout the country, which means they make occasional changes to their requirements.
In almost all cases any changes in their standards will roll out slowly, giving facilities plenty of time to plan and implement the adjustments. In some situations these types of changes will require a company to put up new signs or labels or add labeling to new areas of the facility. While you technically can wait until the required date provided by OSHA, it is much better to keep up on the changes and make adjustments as soon as possible.
Don’t Let Labels or Signs get Dirty
Many GHS labels and signs are put in areas where they can get quite dirty. Whether it is on the back of a truck, on barrels or other containers, or just about anywhere else they can get covered in grease, dirt and other things.
If a sign or label is too dirty to read it won’t do anyone any good. Fortunately, GHS labels and signs that are printed on high quality materials can be cleaned using normal cleaning supplies in your facility. You don’t need to worry about them getting damaged if, for example, you wash the outside of a barrel that has a GHS label attached to it.
Taking the time to ensure all the labels and signs throughout your facility are cleaned as often as is necessary to keep them unobstructed you will find they are much more effective. Of course, this can also protect your facility from getting fines or violations from any inspections by OSHA or other agencies.
Do Provide Regular Training
Formal training for GHS labeling is a very helpful option for many people in the facility. Some companies choose to only provide this type of training to those who are actively working with these labels. Giving this type of training to everyone who works in the facility, however, will help ensure everyone is able to identify potential safety issues.
You can also provide those in certain roles with an advanced class that goes into more depth about GHS labeling and other people with a basic version of the training. Whatever you decide to do, getting everyone at least a general understanding of how to read GHS labels is going to help your facility in many ways.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help
If you’re having trouble figuring out exactly how to get in compliance with GHS requirements or how to get the most out of these labels, make sure you ask for help. There are many options out there to help ensure all facilities are operating as safely as possible.
Depending on the specific type of facility you are running you may be able to get free or inexpensive assistance from other companies in the area or even OSHA itself. There are a lot of programs and training opportunities specifically for safety managers of facilities that can help ensure your facility gets the most out of GHS labeling and other safety standards.
Focusing On Safety
The bottom line with all of these items is that you need to remember that just like any safety standards, GHS labeling is designed to help keep your facility and your employees safe. Investing the time and resources into ensuring you are following all the standards properly is not just a requirement by law, but also a smart business move. Safe facilities operate much more efficiently and with fewer costly incidents so make sure you take the GHS labeling standards seriously and implement them correctly in your facility.
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