What is GHS?

GHS stands for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The globally harmonized system is a classification that is intended to enhance environmental protection, public health and reduce trade barriers by using universal hazard statements, pictograms and signal words to communicate information on product labels and Material Safety Data Sheets.

Why do we need the GHS?

A major problem faced by the chemical industry worldwide is the inconsistency between national and regional systems for chemical classification. In 2003, the United Nations (UN) adopted the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

A global harmonization system is intended to replace these multiple systems with one uniform system that all parties have adopted. The GHS regulations provide a basis for synchronization of Material Safety Data Sheets by specifying rules and regulations on hazardous materials at national, regional and worldwide levels.

Who will the GHS affect?

The globally harmonized system will have tremendous effects on the chemical data management industry. As OSHA Hazard Communication Standards move toward complying with the globally harmonized system, it is important to maintain MSDSs that are compliant with the GHS regulations. Regulatory revisions will call for MSDS authoring in both content and format of current Material Safety Data Sheets as the GHS regulations are implemented throughout the US.

When will the GHS regulations be implemented in the US?

In 2010, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) hosted public hearings in regards to the proposed changes to the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. By the end of 2011, OSHA will release a final ruling on the updated OSHA Hazard Communication Standard.