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GHS Precautionary Statements: A Definitive Guide

Prevention. Reaction. Mitigation. Anyone invested in workplace safety probably has experience with these three safety techniques. When it comes to chemical handling, any one of them can save a life. And they’re exactly what GHS precautionary statements help chemical handlers do. Learn more about how these important directives fit into overall GHS labeling and how to identify the GHS precautionary statements you need.

What is a GHS precautionary statement?

GHS precautionary statements advise handlers of necessary actions to prevent or minimize adverse effects of a chemical. These standardized phrases, sometimes referred to as P codes, may contain information related to storage, health recommendations, mitigation techniques or disposal.

Precautionary statements are part of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. This international system informs and guides the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). GHS precautionary statements make up one of the six elements of a compliant GHS label, which also include:

  1. Signal Word (DANGER or WARNING)
  2. GHS Symbols (globally identifiable pictograms)
  3. Manufacturer Information (name, address, phone number)
  4. Precautionary Statements / First Aid (preventive, response, storage or disposal precautions)
  5. Hazard Statements (nature and degree of hazard)
  6. Product Name (product, chemical or other Identifier)
A GHS label for carbon monoxide. The precautionary statements are circled.
A GHS precautionary statement includes preventive, response, storage or disposal precautions.
a lineup of bright yellow GHS safety data sheet binders

How to determine a chemical’s precautionary statement

Determining a chemical’s precautionary statement starts with its GHS hazard class and hazard category. You can find these two elements in Section 2 (Hazard Identification) of a Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

  • A GHS hazard class defines the nature of a physical or health hazard by grouping together products that have similar properties, e.g., flammable solid, carcinogenicity or acute toxicity.
  • A GHS hazard category provides a numerical representation of the hazardous severity of the product from 1 through 4, with 1 denoting the greatest severity of hazard.

Once you know these, you can cross-reference the required GHS precautionary statement.

GHS precautionary statements list (2021 update)

Each precautionary statement is designated a code, starting with the letter P and followed by three digits. (P_ _ _). These precautionary statement codes assist in referencing and translation and may appear on a GHS label. However, the required element for compliant GHS labeling is the precautionary statement phrase(s). The following list reflects the most recent ninth revised edition of the GHS Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

Note: “...” denotes instances when more information may be required based on your specific location or other circumstances. Consult your authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) when necessary.

General precautionary statements

P101 If medical advice is needed, have product container or label at hand.
P102 Keep out of reach of children.
P103 Read carefully and follow all instructions.

Prevention precautionary statements

P203 Obtain, read and follow all safety instructions before use.
P210 Keep away from heat, hot surface, sparks, open flames and other ignition sources. No smoking.
P211 Do not spray on an open flame or other ignition source.
P212 Avoid heating under confinement or reduction of the desensitized agent.
P220 Keep away from clothing and other combustible materials.
P222 Do not allow contact with air.
P223 Do not allow contact with water.
P230 Keep wetted with ...
P231 Handle and store contents under inert gas/...
P232 Protect from moisture.
P233 Keep container tightly closed.
P234 Keep only in original container.
P235 Keep cool.
P236 Keep only in original packaging; Division .. in the transport configuration.
P240 Ground/bond container and receiving equipment.
P241 Use explosion-proof [electrical/ventilating/lighting/.../] equipment.
P242 Use only non-sparking tools.
P243 Take precautionary measures against static discharge.
P244 Keep valves and fittings free from oil and grease.
P250 Do not subject to grinding/shock/friction/...
P251 Do not pierce or burn, even after use.
P260 Do not breathe dust/fume/gas/mist/vapors/spray.
P261 Avoid breathing dust/fume/gas/mist/vapors/spray.
P262 Do not get in eyes, on skin, or on clothing.
P263 Avoid contact during pregnancy/while nursing.
P264 Wash hands [and …] thoroughly after handling.
P265 Do not touch eyes.
P270 Do not eat, drink or smoke when using this product.
P271 Use only outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
P272 Contaminated work clothing should not be allowed out of the workplace.
P273 Avoid release to the environment.
P280 Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection/face protection/hearing protection/...
P282 Wear cold insulating gloves and either face shield or eye protection.
P283 Wear fire resistant or flame retardant clothing.
P284 [In case of inadequate ventilation] Wear respiratory protection.
P231+P232 Handle and store contents under inert gas/... Protect from moisture.
P264+P265 Wash hands [and …] thoroughly after handling. Do not touch eyes.

Response precautionary statements

P301 IF SWALLOWED:
P302 IF ON SKIN:
P303 IF ON SKIN (or hair):
P304 IF INHALED:
P305 IF IN EYES:
P306 IF ON CLOTHING:
P308 IF exposed or concerned:
P316 Get emergency medical help immediately.
P317 Get emergency medical help.
P318 If exposed or concerned, get medical advice.
P319 Get medical help if you feel unwell.
P320 Specific treatment is urgent (see ... on this label).
P321 Specific treatment (see ... on this label).
P330 Rinse mouth.
P331 Do NOT induce vomiting.
P332 IF SKIN irritation occurs:
P333 If skin irritation or rash occurs:
P334 Immerse in cool water [or wrap in wet bandages].
P335 Brush off loose particles from skin.
P336 Thaw frosted parts with lukewarm water. Do not rub affected area.
P337 If eye irritation persists:
P338 Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing.
P340 Remove person to fresh air and keep comfortable for breathing.
P342 If experiencing respiratory symptoms:
P351 Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes.
P352 Wash with plenty of water/...
P353 Rinse skin with water [or shower].
P354 Immediately rinse with water for several minutes.
P360 Rinse immediately contaminated clothing and skin with plenty of water before removing clothes.
P361 Take off immediately all contaminated clothing.
P362 Take off contaminated clothing.
P363 Wash contaminated clothing before reuse.
P364 And wash it before reuse.
P370 In case of fire:
P371 In case of major fire and large quantities:
P372 Explosion risk.
P373 DO NOT fight fire when fire reaches explosives.
P375 Fight fire remotely due to the risk of explosion.
P376 Stop leak if safe to do so.
P377 Leaking gas fire: Do not extinguish, unless leak can be stopped safely.
P378 Use ... to extinguish.
P380 Evacuate area.
P381 In case of leakage, eliminate all ignition sources.
P390 Absorb spillage to prevent material damage.
P391 Collect spillage.
P301+P316 IF SWALLOWED: Get emergency medical help immediately.
P301+P317 IF SWALLOWED: Get medical help.
P301+P330
+P331
IF SWALLOWED: Rinse mouth. Do NOT induce vomiting.
P302+P317 IF ON SKIN: Get medical help.
P302+P334 IF ON SKIN: Immerse in cool water or wrap in wet bandages.
P302+P335
+P334
Brush off loose particles from skin. Immerse in cool water [or wrap in wet bandages].
P302+P352 IF ON SKIN: wash with plenty of water/...
P302+P361
+P354
IF ON SKIN: Take off Immediately all contaminated clothing. Immediately rinse with water for several minutes.
P303+P361
+P353
IF ON SKIN (or hair): Take off Immediately all contaminated clothing. Rinse SKIN with water [or shower].
P304+P317 IF INHALED: Get medical help.
P304+P340 IF INHALED: Remove person to fresh air and keep comfortable for breathing.
P305+P351
+P338
IF IN EYES: Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses if present and easy to do - continue rinsing.
P305+P354
+P338
IF IN EYES: Immediately rinse with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing.
P306+P360 IF ON CLOTHING: Rinse Immediately contaminated CLOTHING and SKIN with plenty of water before removing clothes.
P308+P316 IF exposed or concerned: Get emergency medical help immediately.
P332+P317 If skin irritation occurs: Get medical help.
P333+P317 If skin irritation or rash occurs: Get medical help.
P336+P317 Immediately thaw frosted parts with lukewarm water. Do not rub affected area. Get medical help.
P337+P317 If eye irritation persists: Get medical help.
P342+P316 If experiencing respiratory symptoms: Get emergency medical help immediately.
P361+P364 Take off immediately all contaminated clothing and wash it before reuse.
P362+P364 Take off contaminated clothing and wash it before reuse.
P370+P376 in case of fire: Stop leak if safe to do so.
P370+P378 In case of fire: Use ... to extinguish.
P370+P380
+P375
In case of fire: Evacuate area. Fight fire remotely due to the risk of explosion.
P371+P380
+P375
In case of major fire and large quantities: Evacuate area. Fight fire remotely due to the risk of explosion.
P370+P372
+P380+P373
In case of fire: Explosion risk. Evacuate area. DO NOT fight fire when fire reaches explosives.
P370+P380
+P375[+P378]
In case of fire: Evacuate area. Fight fire remotely due to the risk of explosion. [Use…to extinguish].]

Storage precautionary statements

P401 Store in accordance with ...
P402 Store in a dry place.
P403 Store in a well-ventilated place.
P404 Store in a closed container.
P405 Store locked up.
P406 Store in corrosive resistant/... container with a resistant inner liner.
P407 Maintain air gap between stacks or pallets.
P410 Protect from sunlight.
P411 Store at temperatures not exceeding ... °C/...°F.
P412 Do not expose to temperatures exceeding 50 °C/ 122 °F.
P413 Store bulk masses greater than ... kg/...lbs at temperatures not exceeding ... °C/...°F.
P420 Store separately.
P402+P404 Store in a dry place. Store in a closed container.
P403+P233 Store in a well-ventilated place. Keep container tightly closed.
P403+P235 Store in a well-ventilated place. Keep cool.
P410+P403 Protect from sunlight. Store in a well-ventilated place.
P410+P412 Protect from sunlight. Do not expose to temperatures exceeding 50 °C/122°F.

Disposal precautionary statements

P501 Dispose of contents/container to ...
P502 Refer to manufacturer or supplier for information on recovery or recycling.
P503 Refer to manufacturer/supplier... for information on disposal/recovery/recycling.

Product Recommendations

Ready to start making GHS labels? Here are our top product recommendations to get you started.
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