Don’t Risk It: Master the Hazard Symbols and Their Meanings

Don’t Risk It: Master the Hazard Symbols and Their Meanings

Published February 26, 2019

| Updated April 4, 2023

2 minute read

Understanding SDS Section 2 will help you identify potential hazards and take necessary precautions.

Are you trying to figure out how to best use Safety Data Sheets, but have more questions than answers? Well, you’re not alone. People frequently ask questions like... 

  • How many sections are there in a safety data sheet? (And how do I use them to do my job effectively?) 
  • What does a safety data sheet provide information on? (And what am I supposed to do with the information?) 
  • And what does a safety data sheet contain that other employees need to know?  

It’s easiest if you start by looking at one section at a time, so we’re going to dive into one of the most important parts of an SDS, Section 2. This section provides hazard identification for the chemical and information you need to have on the product label. 

Most companies have processes to ensure they comply with local legislative requirements for the chemicals they buy. They ensure they obtain the proper safety data sheet for those products. But too often, they don’t have processes in place to help you understand how to use the information the SDS provides to help keep yourself and your co-workers safe.  

SDS management software can help clarify data that’s essential to ensure employee protection. 

SDS Section 2: Precautionary measures you should take to safely handle chemicals

Handling chemicals improperly could cause physical, health, and environmental hazards in your workplace. The hazard identification section of the SDS is usually the first item in Section 2. This information is essential for conducting risk assessments of your workers and the environment.  

The regulatory body for SDS in the UK, is UK REACH. Supporting this, CLP regulations require distributors of chemicals to classify, label, and package their hazardous substances correctly. This divides SDS – Section 2 into further subsections. SDSs are required to include the following information. 

  1. The hazard classification of the product.
  2. Signal word.
  3. Pictograms.
  4. Hazard statement(s).
  5. Precautionary statements.
  6. Additional requirements as outlined by specific legislation. 

The hazard pictograms must appear as a diamond on the label and have a black symbol on a white background with a red frame. 


The CLP Regulation introduce several different classification hazards under the groups; physical, health and environmental. These hazards can range from acute toxicity to environmental hazards to skin sensitisation. Although companies have some leeway about displaying this information, they cannot exclude it from their SDSs altogether. 

EcoOnline can make your SDS easier to manage

Our system collects the information from Section 2 and displays the Hazard Pictograms and Codes in an easily understood product screen. You also have the power to complete risk assessments and pull reports on this information to keep track of your hazardous products without needing to update and keep track of an offline register. We also review the SDSs of your product annually, giving you the security of knowing that your SDSs are up to date and listing the current hazards for your products.


New call-to-action


Author Dan Ryder

Dan is an experienced copywriter with a master's degree from the Manchester Writing School. He joined EcoOnline in November 2022. 

Our related posts

| Health & Safety
Common Barriers Standing in the Way of Superior Safety Maturity

Improving the safety of your employees and the business as a whole, is an important consideration for most...

| Health & Safety
Could you be blindsided by the indirect costs of workplace accidents?

You might think calculating the costs of accidents and incidents in your workplace is pretty straightforward. But...

| Health & Safety
How to Evaluate Your Organisation's Safety Culture

9 Key Areas of Focus It’s no secret that having a strong safety culture can catapult your safety performance. With...