Texas Tech University
Scholarly Messenger
Hazard Communication Labels and Pictograms Changing

Whether it's a bottle of household bleach, fertilizer or chemicals in academic research laboratories and studios, each carries a hazard symbol that warns of specific dangers. Each country historically has had its own set of symbols, and that has required multiple classifications, labels and safety data sheets for the same product. A new Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals has been adopted around the world to address those issues.

The pictograms and hazards in the new system are slightly different from those that we have been using in the U.S. – and all employees at TTU need to become familiar with the new system. Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) has created a new Hazard Communication training module on its website and all employees are asked to complete this new training by Dec. 31. The new GHS will also change the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), now called Safety Data Sheets (SDS), provided for hazardous chemicals. The new SDS will present the same information in a more user-friendly format.

To help units maintain their required SDSs, EH&S has purchased ChemWatch, a stand-alone database that will allow everyone with an eRaider log-in to search for any chemical and print SDS. ChemWatch is being installed and will be available soon.

Many chemical containers are already displaying these new symbols. The GHS document is called The Purple Book and outlines the agreed-to hazard classification and communication provisions with explanatory information on how to apply the system.

The new GHS will affect:
  • grounds maintenance
  • physical plant
  • housekeeping
  • golf course grounds crews
  • swimming pool maintenance
  • faculty, staff and students in laboratories, studios and shops
In the U.S., universities must educate their faculty, staff and students about the GHS by December. As noted above, Texas Tech can demonstrate university compliance when faculty, staff and students who work around chemicals and other hazardous equipment or materials in our laboratories, shops and studios complete their new Hazard Communication training on the EH&S website by Dec. 31, 2013.

If there are questions, please contact EH&S at 742-3876.

Further information is available at: