What Is a Hazard Communication Signal Word?

xHazCom Label Elements

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).

What’s a Hazard Communication Signal Word?

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.

What Are the Hazard Communication Label Elements?

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.

What Are the Haz-Com Signal Words?

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.”


Conclusion: Hazard Communication Signal Words Provide Vital Information about Chemical Hazards

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.


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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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