Q. I have a 55-gallon drum of a flammable chemical that I plan to ship to a customer. I know I am required to have a GHS label on the outside, as well as DOT markings and labels. I was told that the flame pictogram on the GHS label cannot be on the drum since there is already a Flammable Liquid label as required by the DOT. Is this true?
A. You are correct. This is a case of overlapping regulations.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently added the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) to its Hazard Communication Standard. As such, all hazardous chemicals that will be transported must be labeled with new GHS labels. There will be a small transition period (until June 1, 2015), but most employers are already phasing in the new system.
GHS labels are required to have four pieces of information on them: a signal word, hazard statements, precautionary statements, and a pictogram. The full text of these requirements can be found at 29 CFR 1910.1200, Appendix C.
While some of the pictograms are exclusive to GHS, many of them have the same appearance as DOT pictograms. For instance, here is the mentioned flame pictogram that goes on your GHS labels.
Under the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) hazardous materials regulations, all shipments of hazmat must have certain hazmat markings and labels placed on packages. They include, but are not limited to, marking the Proper Shipping Name, identification number, name and address, and affixing hazard labels. [49 CFR 172, Subparts D and E] For instance, here is the Flammable Liquid label.
Avoid Labeling Confusion
As part of the rollout of the GHS rule, OSHA explicitly forbids a package from having a GHS pictogram when the package is already required to have a DOT hazmat label.
“Where a pictogram required by the Department of Transportation under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations appears on a shipped container, the pictogram specified in C.4 for the same hazard shall not appear.” [29 CFR 1910.1200, Appendix C.2.3.3]
OSHA addresses its comments as to why it is prohibiting the GHS pictogram in this specific scenario in the Federal Register that announced the final GHS rule.
“The reason it is mandatory is that having two different pictograms addressing the same hazard may lead to confusion for people handling the chemical.” [77 FR 17728, March 26, 2012]
Prepare your facility for a seamless transition to the new labeling standards with Lion’s online OSHA training. Material handlers will learn to recognize new labels, pictograms, and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) in the Hazard Communication Online Course. All employees must be trained by December 1, 2013.