Hazard Communication 2012 (HazCom 2012)/GHS Update: Pyrophoric Gases, Simple Asphyxiants, and Combustible Dusts

We recently wrote a post to help you comply with the new labeling requirements mandated by the Hazard Communication/HazCom 2012 alignment with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS).

There are several hazards that aren’t covered by the new labels. Hazards like pyrophoric gases, simple asphyxiants, and combustible dusts have their own unique requirements. Others have been grouped together and labeled as “Hazards Not Otherwise Classified.” In this post, we’re going to talk specifically about the requirements for pyrophoric gasses, simple asphixiants, and combustible dusts.

First, some definitions.

Pyrophoric Gas – According to OSHA, “pyrophoric” means “a chemical that will ignite spontaneously in air at a temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees C) or below.” The definition of pyrophoric gas has not changed as part of the 2012 revisions.

Simple Asphyxiant – OSHA defines a simple asphyxiant as “A substance or mixture that displaces oxygen in the ambient atmosphere, and can thus cause oxygen deprivation in those who are exposed, leading to unconsciousness and death.”

Combustible Dust – The HazCom 2012 Standard does not define “combustible dust,” but OSHA’s Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program Directive CPL 03-00-008 provides guidance, stating that “A combustible particulate solid that presents a fire or deflagration hazard when suspended in air or some other oxidizing medium over a range of concentrations, regardless of particle size or shape.”

Now that the definitions are out of the way, what are the requirements for each?

First, know that there are no specific GHS pictograms to represent these hazards, although pyrophoric gases will be represented with the GHS Flame pictogram. See and download free scalable vector versions of the GHS pictograms using the links in our previous GHS post.

Second, know that if a chemical does contain one of these hazards, the hazard must be addressed on the label and also in section 2 of the safety data sheet (SDS).

On the label, each hazard must be addressed with a signal word and a hazard statement. They are:

Pyrophoric gases (in addition to the Flame GHS pictogram)

  • Signal word – Danger
  • Hazard statement – Catches fire spontaneously if exposed to air

Simple asphyxiants

  • Signal word – Warning
  • Hazard statement – May displace oxygen and cause rapid suffocation

Combustible dusts

  • Signal word – Warning
  • Hazard statement – May form combustible dust concentrations in the air

And, on the SDS, the hazard must be addressed in section 2. For more on the SDS and its various sections, click here or here.

Finally, don’t forget to check out our online HazCom training course.


Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. He's worked in training/learning & development for 25 years, in safety and safety training for more than 10, is an OSHA Authorized Outreach Trainer for General Industry OSHA 10 and 30, has completed a General Industry Safety and Health Specialist Certificate from the University of Washington/Pacific Northwest OSHA Education Center and an Instructional Design certification from the Association of Talent Development (ATD), and is a member of the committee creating the upcoming ANSI/ASSP Z490.2 national standard on online environmental, health, and safety training. Jeff frequently writes for magazines related to safety, safety training, and training and frequently speaks at conferences on the same issues, including the Washington Governor's Safety and Health Conference, the Oregon Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Conference, the Wisconsin Safety Conference, the MSHA Training Resources Applied to Mining (TRAM) Conference, and others.

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