GHS Pictogram Meanings

 In Product Safety, SDS: Safety Data Sheets, Uncategorized

By: Kirsten Alcock, Manager of Product Safety, email

With the change in regulations from WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015, the word ‘Pictogram’ is being used rather than ‘Symbol’.  Although the word Symbol is still in play, when we are talking about SDSs and labels, we say ‘pictogram’.  This change in verbiage has been causing some confusion.  What causes even more confusion, is that one pictogram can have countless classifications. This is something Canadians have always had to deal with as the same happened with the older WHMIS 1988 symbols. One symbol could have various meanings.

Below you will find the GHS Symbols and  GHS Pictograms that Canada has adopted but what do these GHS Pictograms mean?

Let’s go through a couple examples with you to discuss how one GHS pictogram can have multiple meanings.

If we look at the flammable symbol in particular, this can be for three different classifications under the Flammable Liquids Category alone.  As you can see below, the same symbol is being used for extremely flammable liquids, highly flammable liquids and flammable liquids and vapours. All three of these have different endpoints but yet the same symbol is being used. This is why it is important to have the correct phrase in section 2 of your SDS to advise the users which category it falls into. It is of utmost importance to provide this information so that the product can be used safely and properly within the workplace.

The same issue happens with the new Health Hazard symbol.  This new symbol can have a variety of classifications associated it such as carcinogen, germ cell mutagen, reproductive toxin,  STOT Single exposure etc. There are multiple classifications that use this particular symbol.

ghs pictorgram

It is important when you are classifying your products to ensure that you are using the proper GHS pictogram and placing the appropriate statement onto both your SDS and GHS Label.

If you have any questions regarding GHS symbol/pictogram meanings or requirements, do not hesitate to contact us. We can help you convert your older MSDSs into SDSs that use the appropriate symbol not only on your SDS but also on your labels. Contact us for further information on how we can help you meet your label compliance for the GHS (Globally Harmonized System).

Dell Tech
Kirsten Alcock, B.Sc. (Hons) 
Manager, Product Safety Group

Dell Tech has provided professional, confidential consulting services to the chemical specialty

industry in Canada, the USA, Europe, and Asia for the last 40 years.

Contact us today for more information.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

en_CAEnglish (Canada)
substances of special concernsafety data sheet