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GHS Labels May Delay Your Air Shipments

It's been nearly three years since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its Hazard Communication Standard to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) requirements. Officially published on March 26, 2012, the revised Hazard Communication Standard updates the way employees are protected in the workplace with new requirements for hazard warning labels, a standardized format for Safety Data Sheets in the workplace, and more.


For most employers, implementation of these new rules and compliance with the standard is mandatory by June 1, 2015. As this date approaches, many of your incoming hazardous chemicals may already show the new GHS labels and contain updated Safety Data Sheets.


OSHA's Workplace Labeling May Overlap With DOT's Hazardous Materials Rules

When shipped in commerce, many workplace hazardous chemicals are regulated as hazardous materials under US Department of Transportation (DOT) rules. When a DOT-regulated package is shipped, the package requires the appropriate GHS labels (and other warnings) in addition to DOT hazmat markings and labels.


In other cases, OSHA may regulate a chemical substance that DOT does not. When shipping these substances, the package requires the necessary GHS labels (and other warnings) only, not any type of DOT communication.


The difference has to do, in part, with the concerns of each agency. OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard covers chemicals stored and used in the workplace that pose short- and long-term physical and health hazards (e.g., chemicals that possess explosive, corrosive, or carcinogenic properties). DOT, on the other hand, focuses on the safe movement of hazardous materials in trade and, as such, regulates materials that exhibit more immediate hazards.


Corrosive label

DOT Label

GHS Corrosives Label

OSHA Pictogram


New Air Shipment Rule for Containers With GHS Labels

As more GHS labels enter the hazmat supply chain, shippers and carriers must be prepared to use the new labels, recognize them, and know what they mean. This is especially true for air shipments regulated by the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations.


Because GHS pictograms resemble DOT hazmat labels, airline operators should be extra diligent in obeying all markings and warning labels on the outside of packages to avoid potential mishaps on the runway or in the air. A package with a GHS label on it does not necessarily contain IATA dangerous goods. If an operator sees a GHS label on a package, but no DOT markings, he/she should take extra steps and confirm with the shipper that the contents are not regulated as dangerous goods under IATA. [IATA DGR 2.2 and] 


To prevent delays when shipping OSHA-only hazards by air, IATA suggests that shippers write the words "not restricted" on the air waybill to indicate that the materials are not IATA dangerous goods. [IATA DGR]


Upcoming Webinar

To help shippers and hazmat employees avoid confusion as GHS labels enter the supply chain, Lion Technology Inc. will present the GHS Compliance for Hazmat Shippers Webinar on January 28, 2015, from 1:00 - 3:00 pm. The live, instructor-led webinar covers how new GHS labeling criteria will affect hazmat shipments sent by ground, air, and ocean.

Save 10%


Use the button below to request a discount code to save 10% off of the $179 registration fee.**


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Gain clarity on what labels to use, when, and on what packages and containers. Understanding how the new HazCom Standard relates to your shipping responsibilities under 49 CFR, IATA, and IMO regulations is critical to prevent confusion among carrier personnel, delayed shipments, and DOT fines as high as $75,000 per day, per violation.


Learn more / Register

**Discount does not apply to current Lion Technology members


Training Topics


  • GHS’s impact on international standards (e.g., ICAO, IMDG, UN Model Regulations)
  • GHS’s impact on U.S. regulations (e.g., U.S. DOT HMR, OSHA HazCom)
  • Identifying GHS hazards that have been incorporated into DOT and OSHA regulations
  • Differences between DOT and OSHA hazard definitions and nomenclature
  • DOT or OSHA hazards that are not included in the GHS
  • Package/container marking and labeling requirements under DOT and OSHA
  • When dual labeling of a package for both DOT and OSHA is required
  • What shipping managers need to know and do for effective interaction with product container labeling decision-makers


Who Should Attend


Those responsible for hazmat shipping compliance who must have a clear understanding of the differences between the new GHS and existing DOT hazard communications and who must be able to recognize which rules (OSHA, DOT, or both) apply to their containers or packages.



January 27, 2015 | Regulations
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