The Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

By June 2015, manufacturers, distributors and importers of cosmetic ingredients and chemicals will be required to comply with new US OSHA Hazard Communication regulations with adoption of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. GHS provides a single international system that can be used to identify and communicate hazards while transporting and supplying chemicals across the world.

In the US, this regulation is legislated by OSHA and is expected to further improve the health and safety of workers within the chemical industry. It enhances the former hazard communication standard by providing a single set of harmonized criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health and physical hazards and specifies hazard communication elements for labeling and safety data sheets.

Core Statutes of the GHS

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is an international approach to hazard communication, providing agreed criteria for classification of chemical hazards, and a standardized approach to label elements and safety data sheets.

The GHS is based on major existing systems around the world, including OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard and the chemical classification and labeling systems of other US agencies. OSHA has adopted provisions of GHS under the HazCom2012 Final Rule, which goes into effect June 1, 2015. For more information please see the OSHA GHS website.

Who is required to comply with GHS?

Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers are required to comply with the hazard classification, label, and safety data sheet provisions.

Where is GHS being used?
GHS is in different stages of adoption / implementation around the world. Several countries that have adopted GHS include: the European Union, China, Singapore, and Brazil and many more.

What are the major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard?

  • Hazard classification: The definitions of hazard have been changed to provide specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
  • Labels: Labels of certain products must include a harmonized signal word, pictogram, hazard statements for each hazard class and category, and precautionary statements.
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS): The previous MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) are renamed to SDS (Safety Data Sheets) and will have a specified 16-section format:

Section 1. Identification
Section 2. Hazard(s) identification
Section 3. Composition/information on ingredients
Section 4. First-Aid measures
Section 5. Fire-fighting measures
Section 6. Accidental release measures
Section 7. Handling and storage
Section 8. Exposure controls/personal protection
Section 9. Physical and chemical properties
Section 10. Stability and reactivity
Section 11. Toxicological information
Section 12. Ecological information
Section 13. Disposal considerations
Section 14. Transport information
Section 15. Regulatory information
Section 16. Other information, including date of preparation or last revision