OSHA Labeling Guidelines for Secondary Chemical Product Containers

OSHA Labeling Guidelines for Secondary Chemical Product Containers

Safety is paramount in any work environment. It’s even more important when you’re working with hazardous chemicals, where the right labeling can be the difference between a safe operation and a potentially disastrous one.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stringent regulations on containers used to store and transport chemicals in order to ensure worker safety. Here’s what you should know about their secondary container labeling guidelines.

Secondary container requirements

Secondary containers are containers used to hold hazardous chemicals, which aren’t directly filled by the manufacturer. They could be anything from containers used to refill fuel cans to containers of solvent. If the container is used to transport chemicals from one container to another, that transport or transfer container must be labeled.

OSHA mandates that these secondary containers meet most Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) requirements, including the OSHA Hazardous Container Standard (HCS). This includes standard pictograms, product identifiers and other label elements.

However, OSHA makes some exceptions when it comes to workplace container labels—at least compared to primary container labels. Some of the information required on a primary container can be left on Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), as long as the SDS is handy and easily accessible. The SDS must be available for immediate reference on the shop floor.

For a secondary container label, OSHA requires the following information:

  • Product name
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) diamond
  • GHS health and physical hazard pictograms

Details like the manufacturer’s name and address, precautionary and hazard statements can be relegated to the SDS, as long as the container is used exclusively for the labeled product.

Secondary container exceptions

While the labeling rules are stringent, there are three specific instances where secondary labeling isn’t mandatory:

  1. When the container size is too small to label effectively.
  2. If the chemicals are produced and used within the same workplace.
  3. If the chemicals are for immediate use by the person transferring them to the secondary container.

However, if you’re repackaging bulk products for resale, these containers must satisfy all OSHA requirements for primary containers.

Further labeling considerations

These labels are expected to last the entire lifespan of the container. Therefore it’s important to select labels that can withstand various on-site challenges. This can include anything from repeated handling to corrosion and environmental changes. Opt for plastic labels or heavily-coated paper labels, which will be resistant to moisture and UV light.

If you’re looking for flexibility in labeling various products, consider using Quadrel’s print-and-apply applicators. These allow you to customize labels with black text and graphics, so you can have a standard design and add information for specific products.

Proper chemical labeling is a crucial step towards ensuring workplace safety. Ensuring your chemical containers are appropriately labeled according to OSHA’s guidelines should be a top priority. Proper labeling not only ensures compliance but also helps in averting potential hazards—as well as avoiding fines from OSHA and other regulatory agencies.

Quadrel offers flexible labeling solutions for all of your packaging needs. Contact us today to find the right system for your packaging line.