The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Hazard Classification and Labeling

What is Globally Harmonized System (GHS)?

Globally Harmonized System is a common and articulate approach to defining and classifying hazards, and communicating information with workers, consumers, transport workers, and emergency responders. This system provides the fundamental infrastructure for establishment of national, comprehensive chemical safety programs.ghs2

Why Globally Harmonized System (GHS)?

It is impossible for any individual country to identify and specifically regulate every hazardous chemical product. For example, in the USA, there are an estimated 650,000 such products. Many different countries have come to the same decision about using information broadcasting as a regulatory means to address chemical hazards. While similar, they are different enough to require multiple labels and SDSs for the same product in international trade.

Countries with systems have different requirements for hazard classifications as well as information to be included on a label or SDS. For example, one country may consider a product flammable or toxic, but not in another to which it is being shipped and these differences impact both protection and trade.

Chemical users in different countries that don’t have specific requirements may see different label warnings or SDS information for the same chemical. In the area of trade, it is costly and time-consuming to comply with multiple regulations regarding hazard classification and labeling.

Small to medium enterprises are excluded from international trade in chemicals due to the regulatory problem of compliance.


Benefits of Harmonization:

  • Countries, international organizations, chemical producers and all category users of chemicals will be benefited.
  • This system will provide enhance protection of humans and environment.
  • Small to medium enterprises will be benefited in chemical international trade market.
  • It will reduce need for testing and evaluation.
  • This system will help countries and international organizations to ensure the sound management of chemicals.

Principles of Harmonization:

  1. Protections will not be reduced; comprehensibility will be key.
  2. All types of chemicals will be covered; will be based on intrinsic properties (hazards) of chemicals.
  3. All systems will have to be changed.

The Scope of the GHS:

  • This system covers all hazardous chemical substances, dilute solutions, and mixtures.
  • Pharmaceuticals, food additives, cosmetics and pesticide residues in food will not be covered at the point of intentional intake, but will be covered where workers may be exposed, and in transport.

The GHS Elements:

Classification Criteria-

  • Health and Environmental Hazards
  • Physical Hazards
  • Mixtures

Hazard Communication-

  • Labels
  • Safety Data Sheets



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