Changes in How Pesticide Information is Displayed

Changes in How Pesticide Information is Displayed

Globally Harmonized System, SDS, and Pesticide Labels

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now adopting the pictograms used to classify and label chemicals under the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). The HCS is the "Right to Know" law, and requires that information about the hazards of workplace chemicals be available and understandable to workers.

Skull and crossbones pictogram


A pictogram uses a picture with a border to convey hazard information. For example, the skull and crossbones represent "Acute toxicity."

The U.S. Department of Transportation also has adopted the new GHS standards, so these pictograms may appear on new safety data sheets (SDS, formerly MSDS) or shipping containers, but may not match  the signal words found on the pesticide labels on pesticide containers. The reason for the discrepancy is because the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) determines content of pesticide labels and uses a different system.

Comparison of pesticide product information

Therefore, pesticide labels will continue to comply with FIFRA-required label language and signal words. For example, an SDS with an "Aquatic Toxicity" pictogram may say "Dangerous for the environment," while the signal word on the pesticide label for that same product is "Caution."

Employers should educate employees on these changes to avoid confusion.

Erin Bauer, Extension Associate
Clyde Ogg, Extension Educator
Jan Hygnstrom, Project Coordinator
Pierce Hansen, Extension Assistant
Emilee Dorn, Extension Assistant
All in the UNL Pesticide Safety Education Program

Feb. 26, 2014