Historically, local and regional standards were used to identify the hazardous properties of chemicals known as classifications. Variations on how to identify the properties of chemicals and the associated hazards passed on to users through labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) were confusing.
These inconsistencies came to an end in 2008 for pure chemicals and 2015 for mixtures and compounds. National regulatory bodies enforced new United Nations directives for implementing a Globally Harmonised System (GHS) for chemical classifications and labelling.
In order to meet the this mandate, businesses and organisations were forced to change their labelling processes as the new GHS system required warning symbols known as pictograms to be enclosed in a red diamond. For the first time the use of labels printed in two colours was allowed. Previously, labels were printed in black and white. The GHS also controls the size of the label dependant on the volume of the container and the information allowed on a label.
These rules can make it impractical to hold pre-printed label stocks with varying numbers of red diamonds in multiple sizes. Additionally, the frequent requirement for smaller print runs of bespoke labels can result in financial implications for companies if not carefully managed.