6 Tips for Hospitality Industry to Ensure GHS Compliance for Smaller “Down-Packed” Chemical Container Labels

With higher OSHA fines, flexible, lower cost options enable printing durable, appropriately-sized GHS, labels on demand

 Now that the deadlines for “Globally Harmonized System” (GHS) label compliance have past, hotel, restaurant, bar, casino, and resort safety managers need to be aware that OSHA has some stiff fines for those not yet with the program.  Yet achieving compliance and improving safety for the hospitality workers that handle cleaning supplies and other chemicals is easier than it seems.

About 50% of companies, in fact, do not meet all the GHS requirements outlined under OSHA’s 2012 revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), according to a recent study of environmental, health and safety (EHS) professionals conducted by Actio Software Corp.

GHS label compliance is required even for chemical formulations bought in bulk containers, such as barrels of sanitizer transferred to smaller “down-packed” containers, such as spray bottles, for portable use.  Such formulations range from cleaning and maintenance supplies to food preparation ingredients.  This includes common compounds that can be dangerous or deadly in the wrong combination like bleach, ammonia, chlorine, paints, greases, as well as acetic acid (a vinegar ingredient) and potassium chloride (a food additive).

“For any stragglers who are not GHS label compliant, OSHA fines and penalties have gone up 78% as of August 1, 2016,” says Mark Howell,” owner of Howell Safety & Training Solutions, a Jonesboro, AR.-based safety and risk management consulting company.  “As of August 1, the maximum fine rose from $7,000 per violation to $12,471 per violation, and for more serious issues from $70,000 to $124,709 per violation.”

EHS professionals that are still challenged by GHS label compliance would do well to follow six tips to ensure safe compliance for even smaller “down-packed” chemical container labeling.

1)         Have GHS-compliant safety data sheets and labels and train workers to handle hazardous chemicals properly.  On each GHS label, six items of data are required:  Product Name or Identifier; Hazard Statement; Signal Word; GHS Pictogram symbols; Precautionary Statement; and Supplier Information. 

Instead of the familiar black and white pictogram symbols previously used in safety labeling, GHS labels now require pictogram symbols that convey hazard information with a red diamond border.

“Conveying GHS label information clearly is critical, not only for compliance but also for safety,” says Howell.  “For instance, mixing an ammonia cleaner with bleach can create dangerous fumes.”

2)         Label all secondary containers.  If a chemical is supplied to the workplace with a GHS label, it must be maintained.  If the chemical is transferred to a secondary container, such as a tank or spray bottle that stays in the workplace, employers may label it with information from the original GHS shipping label or safety data sheet. 

“Because of the volume of cleaning supplies used to maintain hospitality industry standards, most chemicals are purchased in bulk and must be properly labeled to GHS requirements in secondary containers like spray bottles,” says Howell.

Howell adds, “An important benefit of the GHS labeling system to the hospitality industry is how it can help improve safety.  The pictogram symbols help to visually cross language barriers for staff who are not fluent in English.”

3)         Save on printing with durable label options on demand.  Implementing GHS labeling can seem daunting to hospitality end users, but does not have to be.  Many are turning to flexible, lower cost options, such as industrial-grade labels from Avery that allow printing durable GHS labels on demand with existing laser printers and certain inkjet printers.

While Avery has been a leading office label brand for decades, it has recently expanded into the commercial and industrial markets with commercial/industrial-grade labels for GHS compliance, such as its UltraDuty® GHS Chemical Labels.  Unlike standard labels, these labels are used in harsh environments like restaurants, hotels, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities so must be very durable and able to withstand exposure to chemicals, abrasion, tearing, moisture, sunlight, and extreme temperatures.

“Software with modifiable templates like Avery’s allow you to quickly create GHS labels in the quantities you need, at the time you need them,” says Howell.  “You can quickly print a single label for a spray bottle in a small restaurant or dozens for hotel staff.”

4)         Meet rugged GHS commercial requirements to stay compliant.  The challenge is that to be GHS compliant, labels must stay reliably affixed without fading or becoming unreadable despite harsh indoor or outdoor conditions including exposure to chemicals, moisture, and spills. 

Some industrial label companies have designed their labels to meet rigorous GHS requirements.  For instance, Avery’s UltraDuty GHS Chemical Labels are chemical resistant, tear resistant, abrasion resistant, and constructed with a marine-grade adhesive that is waterproof and passes a 90-day seawater submersion adhesion test. 

Unlike typical labels, which crack and harden in harsh conditions, the GHS labels are UV resistant with 2+ years of outdoor UV life.  They are also temperature resistant, can be applied as low as 10° F, and used between -20° F to 220° F when printed from color laser printers or -40° F to 300° F when printed from pigment-based inkjet printers.

“Commercial grade labels like Avery’s will help hospitality end users stay GHS compliant and avoid OSHA fines, sanctions, or auditing,” says Howell.  “They are designed to withstand harsh indoor or outdoor conditions, where spills, moisture, sunlight, and even kitchen heat might be common.  But most importantly, they convey important safety information to end users who are potentially at risk if chemicals are used improperly.”

5)         Take advantage of free label-printing software.  Avery, for instance, provides such GHS-compliant label software at no cost.  The company’s Design & Print GHS Wizard allows employees to create and print their own GHS and HMIS labels from pre-designed templates.  They can create on demand labels step-by-step at their desk.  Most employees find such a process intuitive, since it resembles creating an office document from pre-designed templates.

The software includes the pictograms and GHS compliant statements needed for GHS labeling; allows customizable text; insertion of company logo or other images; generation of 18 types of barcodes; and a sequential numbering feature to add lot numbers or other variable data. 

No download is required since the software operates from Avery’s website, and GHS labels can be securely saved online or to a computer.  The software is also capable of printing other safety labels as well.

6)         Choose GHS labels that work with the full range of container sizes and container surface types.  GHS labels such as Avery’s are available in a range of sizes to fit drums, totes, pails, cans, jugs, containers, and even small bottles.  They can be applied to a variety of surfaces such as metal, plastic, glass, ceramic, polycarbonate, painted surfaces, and more.  Similar to the company’s office labels, the GHS labels offer Easy Peel, smudge-free, and jam-free capability.

For labeling that requires the durability of extra lamination, the company also offers Easy Align Self-Laminating ID Labels, which come with a clear laminate so no lamination machine or additional layer of tape is needed.  The material is UV and water resistant, and resists scuffing, tearing and smudging, making the labels suitable in bars, hotels, restaurants, poolside as well as other hospitality worksites.

“Universal GHS label compliance will improve hospitality industry safety by minimizing chemical misidentification and mishandling risk,” concludes Howell.  “Keep in mind, however, that GHS labeling falls under a United Nations standard that OSHA follows, so GHS updates will now occur about every four years.  “Hospitality industry executives will want to work with a GHS label provider and perhaps a consultant that will keep them up to date with these changes.”

For more info, visit www.avery.com/GHSlabel.