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Often, chemicals from a supplier are transferred from their original container to another storage device called a “secondary container.” Workers expect original chemical containers to be marked with OSHA-compliant labeling but struggle to understand whether secondary containers should be labeled.

Recently, the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) aligned US chemical labeling standards with the international GHS regulations. Now, it is easier for workers to understand national and international hazardous chemical label requirements. If you’re still unsure whether you need to label your secondary chemical containers to be OSHA compliant, review the following information.

When Should Secondary Containers Be Labeled?

When it comes to chemical containers, it’s best to follow the phrase, “When in doubt, label it.” There are only a few instances (explained later) where secondary labels are not necessary. Labeling secondary containers can reduce the number of accidents in the workplace and protect worker health and safety.

Examples of secondary containers include:

  • Storage bottles used for distributing small amounts of the chemical
  • Storage bottles used to dilute the chemical
  • Spray bottles
  • Beakers, test tubes, or vials

Which Information Should Be Included on the Label?

Employers must ensure containers with hazardous chemicals are labeled, tagged, or marked according to OSHA regulations. OSHA states secondary labels must relate the following information:

  • The product name
  • The hazardous chemicals the product includes
  • Words, pictures, or symbols of the key physical and health hazards (such as inhalation hazard, skin irritant, or eye corrosion hazard)

This specific information can be found on the shipped container’s label or the MSDS.

Exceptions for Secondary Container Labels

As we mentioned earlier, there are some instances when secondary container labels are not necessary. These conditions include:

  • Chemicals were transferred to the secondary container for immediate use. “Immediate use” here means the person who transfers the chemical from one container to the other will be the only one using the secondary container and only during their current work shift. If the secondary container will be used day after day, this is not considered “immediate use,” and the container will need to be labeled.
  • Only the person who transferred the chemicals will be using the secondary container. If more than one employee will be using the container, it must be properly labeled.

Safety First for Secondary Containers

Proper chemical labeling is not only essential for OSHA compliance, but it is also important to the safety of a workplace. For this reason, it’s critical that you educate supervisors and employees alike on best practices of chemical labeling and handling to reduce physical hazards.

If you need assistance securing the right OSHA warning labels for your secondary containers or any other labels or signs, such as biohazard warning signs, reach out to LEM Products, Inc. today. Our experts will find the solutions that enable your business to be compliant and safe.