Every product that falls into a hazard class must have a label and an SDS. Labels are important because they alert workers that a product is potentially hazardous. They tell you the major hazards of the product and basic precautions (safety steps) you should take.
Listing the hazardous ingredients on a label is not required by WHMIS, however some suppliers may choose to do so and this additional information is acceptable under WHMIS.
There are 2 signal words: Danger and Warning
- Danger is used for the more severe hazards
- Warning is used for the less severe hazards
- Some low hazard categories do not have a signal word assigned.
Hazard statements are brief, standardized sentences that describe the hazards of the product. The following are examples:
- Extremely flammable gas
- Contains gas under pressure, may explode if heated
- Fatal if inhaled
- Causes eye irritation
- May cause cancer
Precautionary statements provide standardized advice on how to minimize or prevent harmful effects from the product. These statements can include instructions about storage, use, first aid, personal protective equipment, and emergency measures. The following are examples:
- Keep container tightly closed
- Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection/face protection
- If exposed or concerned: get medical advice/attention
- Fight fire remotely due to risk of explosion
- Protect from sunlight
- The skull and crossbones pictogram indicates that the product poses a health hazard of higher concern
- The exclamation mark pictogram indicates that the product poses another health hazard, in this case, skin irritation
- The signal word is Danger
- The Hazard Statements are: Fatal if swallowed and Causes Skin Irritation
- This label also shows Precautionary Statements
- Labels must be in both English and French
*NOTE: While labels vary in the way they are laid out, the regulations required that the pictogram, signal word, and hazard statements must be grouped together.
Product IdentifierThe product name exactly as it appears on the container and the Safety Data Sheet
Hazard PictogramsShows the hazard pictogram as determined by the hazard classification of the product. In some cases, no pictogram may be required.
Signal WordDepending on the hazard class and category, the signal word will be either Danger (severe hazard) or Warning (less severe hazard). Some categories do not have a signal word, these are typically less hazardous
Hazard StatementsDescribe a product’s hazards, suppliers used standardized hazard statements on their labels based on the hazard class and category of the product.
Precautionary StatementsDescribe recommended measures to minimize or prevent the hazards of the product, including protective equipment and emergency measures. First aid is included here.
Supplier IdentificationLists the Canadian Supplier – the company that made or packaged the product, and who is responsible for the label and SDS content. Contact information is also provided.
A Workplace Label must have:
- Product Name (Matching the SDS product name)
- Safe Handling Precautions (May include pictograms, or other supplier label information)
- SDS Reference
My Responsibility as a Worker
- Check to see if there is a label
- Read, understand and follow the instructions
- Follow your workplace’s safe work procedures
- Ask for a new label when the old one cannot be seen or read properly
- Make sure a Workplace Label is attached when you transfer a chemical to a new container.