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    September 13, 2023

    How to Read and Understand a Chemical Hazard Label

    Chemical hazard labels are important tools for communicating the hazards of chemicals to workers, consumers, and other people who may be exposed to them.

    They are required by law to be on all chemicals that are considered hazardous, and they must include specific information about the hazards of the chemical, as well as precautions to take when handling and storing it. Here’s how to read and understand a chemical hazard label.

    A Step-by-Step Approach

    Chemical hazard labels are designed to be read in a specific way. Here’s what you should look for first.

    1. Look for the signal words. The first thing you should look for on a chemical hazard label is the signal words. These are short words that are used to indicate the severity of the hazard. There are three signal words:
      • Danger: This signal word indicates that the chemical is extremely hazardous and can cause serious injury or death.
      • Warning: This signal word indicates that the chemical is hazardous and can cause serious injury if not handled properly.
      • Caution: This signal word indicates that the chemical is slightly hazardous and can cause minor injury if not handled properly.
    2. Read the hazard statements. After the signal words, you will find the hazard statements. These statements describe the specific hazards of the chemical. They are usually written in plain language and can be understood by people who are not experts in chemistry.
    3. Read the precautionary statements. The precautionary statements tell you what to do to avoid exposure to the chemical and what to do if you are exposed. They also tell you what kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) you need to wear when handling the chemical.
    4. Look for the supplier information. The supplier information is usually found at the bottom of the label. It includes the name and address of the manufacturer or supplier of the chemical, as well as the phone number of a poison control center.

    More Things to Look Out For

    In addition to the four core components of a chemical hazard label detailed above, there are additional things to look out for when reading one of these labels. For example, the label may contain additional information, such as the chemical name, the chemical formula, and the first aid measures to be taken in case of exposure.

    The label may also be written in multiple languages to provide better universal safety, especially in places where there are multilingual workers coming into contact with the chemical. Finally, the label may be updated from time to time, so it is important to check the date on the label to make sure that you are reading the most recent version.

    Final Tips for Working with Chemical Hazards

    Here are some additional tips for reading and understanding chemical hazard labels:

    • Always read the label before using a chemical.
    • Do not use a chemical if you do not understand the label.
    • If you have any questions about a chemical, contact the manufacturer or supplier.
    • Keep the label in a safe place so that you can refer to it if needed.

    By following these tips, you can help to ensure that you use chemicals safely and avoid exposure to the hazards.