GHS pictograms take on a more specific definition; the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, 6th revised edition defines pictograms as “a graphical composition that may include a symbol plus other graphical elements, such as a border, background pattern, or colour that is intended to convey specific information.” The next image describes the elements making up GHS pictograms in more detail.
All countries that have already adopted or intend to adopt the GHS classification system will have incorporated these 9 symbolic images within the specified shape using the specified colours such that they are exact reproductions of the GHS pictograms.
Hazardous products classified under the GHS system must include all relevant GHS pictograms for the product’s hazards at the forefront of the packaging label; failure to do so can lead to non-compliancy/regulatory fines. In some jurisdictions, additional categories outside those covered under GHS may exist; hazard symbols categories outside the scope of GHS are independently defined by local competent authority. The government published regulations for Canada’s WHMIS 2015 and The United States’ HazCom 2012 limit any discussion of environmental hazards; both countries have excluded the environmental classification category and its representative symbols from their legislations. On the other hand, the UK’s CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging) regulations do include environmental hazards.
Only to a minimal extent do countries diverge from the use these 9 standard GHS pictograms. GHS pictograms are used to convey the dangers that could result from the use of hazardous products; each pictogram represents the hazards associated with a specific class or category. To find out more about their specific meanings, take a look at our blog post, ‘Your Guide to GHS pictogram meanings.’