Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2005 09:20:20 -0500
Reply-To: Ralph Stuart <rstuart**At_Symbol_Here**>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Ralph Stuart <rstuart**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Summary of 14 responses to Standardized labelling of experimental

Below is a summary of the responses from my e-mail inquiry yesterday.
I've removed the identifying information from the replies, since I
didn't say would pass along the responses, but thanks to everyone who
did answer.

- Ralph


In distributing experimental Unknowns - often in small vials - we
sometimes enclose the screw-top vial in a slightly larger snap-top
(cheap) plastic vial. The larger one carries hazard identification
information. The smaller on can be identified by a number code.


You might consider a label consisting of an identification number and
some warning icons.  The number, then, refers to a posted list (or
one of several identical lists) with all of the desired information
on it.  Inquiries from our department have indicated that this can
meet legal requirements, but it is probably a good idea to check with
authorities, if that is the issue.


The best idea I can give you is to investigate a system that prints
labels instead of attempting to write on labels that need to be that


Below is an example of a label we have made for us; these are
examples of some of the smallest.  They give generic material
class/family names, and a standardized hazards statement. There is
space for the specific material, the name of the resposible party and
the date.

A KY OSHA officer found the warnings on these labels adequate for
HAZCOM requirements


I am attaching my label template - in Microsoft word.  These are not
1 x 2.  They print on floppy disk labels.

For small containers, I recommend that they attach a label using a
tag with a string.

I don't know how to make things any smaller than what is attached.


I did peptide synthesis in Biochemistry for 2 years, and had thousands
of 2 ml vials of milligram quantities of peptides (samples,
intermediates, products, etc.) that I kept in desiccators. I put a
number on each vial, which corresponded to details in my lab notebook.
On some vials, I drew notated structures that any peptide chemist would
understand. We had 20 researchers in the lab who pretty much followed
the same practice for labeling. When I left the laboratory to work in a
Pharmacology laboratory, I made an index list and put it in the

 From my experience, and knowing the diversity of chemistry, I do not
believe any one system will meet your specifications. At least at some
point you need to decide that labeling small vials can be done by
another method.


These small vials are usually kept in the vial boxes and stored in fridges/
There are two options: 1) number the vials and place only the hazard symbol
on it and then keep a inventory of the contents of the boxes and put the
required information on that inventory. Tape the list to the face of the
fridge/ freezer or top of the box.
2)Buy longer label so that once they are wrapped around the vial there is
still a inch or so where it can adhere to itself. Most of the information
can go on there. The extra tab will just wind around the vial when it goes
back into the box.
Depending on the department those are the options we deploy. Hope that


I haven't implemented anything like this but we are currently
reevaluating our inventory database.  I would tend to believe that if
there is an appropriate way to find this information in a log book,
index, etc.. it would be similar to a manufacturing facility using
their batch record to identify content and hazards.


We use the small HMIS/NFPA labels available from vendors such as Fisher or Lab


We come under similar labeling requirements for hazardous
materials.  What we have done with such issues in chemistry, and gained
agreed acknowledgement of the oversight agency, is to label the flats that
contain the vials with the pertinent information.  The agency
representatives have accepted that approach for this type of container.


Maybe you could try what we do in union scenic shops.  We have about
a couple dozen different manufacturers of paints and another 2 or 3
makers of pigments for the paints.  The colored paints must be
transferred into other containers and kept, so we have to identify
the manufacture of the paint and the color on each label.

We have a chart on the wall that lists the manufacturers and pigment
companies.  Each one is assigned a colored dot or a symbol (depending
on the personal preference of the shop manager).  The symbols are
then put on the containers so it is easy for anyone walking into the
shop to immediately identify both the manufacturer and that additive
of each paint.

In addition, the standard labels for each manufacture with their
hazard warnings and the MSDSs for these products are in a book right
out on the counter so all of the information is readily at hand.

Some system like this might save a lot of time and ink.


We use a LIMS system to generate sample labels.  The "hazard" is
communicated by a color code system called Stop-N-Go
(Red-Yellow-Green)  Green items can be handled with ordinary lab PPE
(lab coat, disposable gloves [e.g., nitrile], and safety glasses).
Yellow items have a moderate hazard that require additional measures
- such as a thicker glove, or gloves of a different material of
construction.  Red items have a severe hazard OR are research
materials for which the hazards are not known.  Red labeled items
MUST say on the label why it is red (e.g. Toxic, Corrosive, Hazards
Unknown).  Text safety information for any of the colors can be
electronically stored in the LIMS system and does not have to be
printed out.

We used to use labels with colored boarders.  The LIMS printer now
uses white labels so the "color code" is printed on the label in
text.  Often times, the researchers will voluntarily use a sharpie to
draw a red line on the red coded products to provide the visual
reminder of the hazard.  Most of the containers are too small to wrap
the label around.  However, if you attach the label to the container
from the center and then adhere the "left over" portions together
(sticks off of the bottle like a flag), the label can be as long as
you like ... the height of the label is restricted by the height of
the bottle.  We've even put them on 2 ml GC autosampler vials.


What we've done in my Laboratory is to have an index
for warnings etc. We have pasted the index on the
Laboratory notice and acquainted ourselves with it.
That way the only thing we need to do on the label is
to put in the index number.


The European Union uses a system of letter and numbers to indicate
hazard information.  It is required by all EU countries.  It m ay
help since a few numbers can communicate sentences of information.

For example:
F; T;

This would appear on a label.

Translation of the label:

Hazard and Risk Phrases:

F: Highly Flammable
T: Toxic
R11: Highly Flammable
R23/24/25: Toxic by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed
R39/23/24/25: Toxic: danger of very serious irreversible effects
through inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed

  Safety Phrases:

S1/2: Keep locked up and out of the reach of children
S7: Keep container tightly closed
S16: Keep away from sources of ignition - No smoking
S36/37: Wear suitable protective clothing and gloves
S45: In case of accident or if you feel unwell seek medical advice
immediately (show the label where possible)

A list can be kept in the storage areas and lab areas as refernce,
similar to the NFPA wall charts.  They may even sell wall charts for
them but I have never looked into this.  If you do not have room for
al of this information, you could use the numbers and letter that are
of mos importance.

Most labs do not have children prsent so designatiion S:1/2 is really
not necessary.  SInce most labs already h ave safety protocols you
could probably remove all of the S statements and your labels would
look like this:

J R Smith
F; T;

Once people become acclimated to the system, the numbers are fairly
easy to remember.

The number do nbot go above 70.  Fo rmany common chemicals you can
find the EU designations for specific chemicals here:

You have to register to use the site buit it is free.  They also
offer a publication with the lists and a book to guide how the
designations are used and assigned for chemcials that do not have
one.  If you look at an MSDS from Sigma-Aldrich on their web site you
can also find the designations on the MSDSs usualy in section 15 or
in on the web site at the bottom of the chemical listing.

Example from web site (Methanol):

Safety Information
Hazard Codes F,T
Risk Statements 11-23/24/25-39/23/24/25
Safety Statements 7-16-36/37-45

Or you can use one word or two word desinations as to the primary
hazard(s).  We use small labels for our reference standards and our
lables look similar to this.

Solvent:  1.2 mL Methanol
Conc. 1.0 mg/mL
Storgae: Refrigerate
Flammable, Poison

The drawback to the EU method is educating everyone to use it, even
though it is REALLY simple.  Each number goes with a safety phrase.

R23 Toxic by inhalation
R24 Toxic in contact with skin
R25 Toxic if swallowed.

A combination of numbers combines the phrases

R23/24/25 Toxic by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed

I think each sheet of statement Risk and Safety  are only 1-2 pages
for each.   There are ~ 10 letter designations and they are really
variations on each other.

T+ + Very toxic
T= Toxic
E= Explosive
C= Corrosive
Xn- Harmful
Xi- Irritant
N-= Dangerous for the environment.

You get the idea.

I apologize if you already are aware of this system but if not it is
an estabished system and one that provides a lot of imfoamtion in a
brief manner.

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