In 2012, OSHA revised their existing Hazard Communication Standard (1910.1200) to more close align it with internal chemical labeling practices through something called the Globally Harmonized System (GHS).
The Hazard Communication Signal Words are part of the label elements that Haz-Com 2012 required on chemical labels.
These "label elements" must appear on all containers of hazardous chemicals.
The label elements that the 2012 Hazard Communication Standard requires on all containers of hazardous chemicals in a workplace, including the signal words that are the subject of this article, are explained in the video sample below from our online Hazard Communication training course.
As explained in the video above, there Haz-Com signal words tell you the relatively severity of the hazards associated with a chemical.
Here's how OSHA puts it:
...A single word used to indicate the relative level of severity of hazard and alert the reader to a potential hazard on the label. The signal words used are "danger" and "warning." "Danger" is used for the more severe hazards, while "warning" is used for less severe hazards.
So your takeaway there is that a signal word of "warning" means roughly "bad" or "dangerous" and a signal word of "danger" means roughly "really bad" or "really dangerous."
We hope this article helped explain to you what a Hazard Communication signal word is, how the signal words give meaningful information to people working with hazardous chemicals, and what the two signal words might be (warning or danger).
Signal words and the rest of the Hazard Communication Standard are all part of what OSHA calls the employee's "right to know" about the chemical hazards they work in the presence of.
If you're looking for help training employees about chemical hazards and the Hazard Communication Standard, or if you'd like to learn more on your own, you may want to check out this online hazard communication training course.
Let us know if you have more questions about Haz-Com signal words or the OSHA Hazard Communication regulation.
And don't forget to download the free guide below.