Globally Harmonized Standards: What You Need to Know
June 1, 2015
What is GHS?
GHS is an acronym for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.
The intent is to have a standardized system of classifying and labelling chemicals on a global scale.
Who developed GHS?
The United Nations developed the system.
Why is it necessary?
Regulatory systems are already in place in many countries, but the differences in their systems can be significant enough to require many different classifications. GHS is
meant to provide a universal,
standardized format for the communication of hazard classification and communication format.
Ultimately, it should lead to improved worker safety.
Where is it being implemented?
It is being implemented globally; however, compliance is not mandatory. Examples are below.
South Korea and China are using it now.
The Middle East has not adopted it yet.
Australia and Europe have similar systems in place. Their systems will require minor modifications to match up with GHS.
When will it be implemented?
In the United States, manufacturers of products that contain hazardous chemicals must be GHS compliant by June 1, 2015.
Distributors of products from manufacturers must ship products that have GHS-compliant labelling by December 1, 2015.
Material Safety Data Sheets
All Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) will be converted to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) in 2015.
This will coincide with the roll out of new Foster product labelling.
All Foster products will have GHS-compliant labels effective June 1, 2015.
Distributors may sell products with current labelling through November 30, 2015.
Distributors must ship GHS-compliant labels after December 1, 2015
Two Major Elements of GHS Hazard Classification
(Health, Physical, and Environmental)
Classification is based on individual chemical components and the degree of hazard.
If a product contains a hazardous component >0.1%, it must be communicated on the SDS and have appropriate warnings, and possibly pictograms, on the label.
For example: If a product potentially contains as little as 0.1% or greater of a residual monomer, it could require a “Cancer” hazard warning on the product.
Hazard Communication (Safety Data Sheet, and Label)–Two Methods
Pictograms–These are the graphics depicting the type of danger (i.e., flame, exclamation point, etc.) that are surrounded by the red diamond shown in Figure 1 above.