GHS – Be on the Safe Side

With the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, the international community seeks to standardize the classification and labeling of chemicals and mixtures internationally. But it also wants to achieve harmonization of various areas like transportation and the protection of consumers, employees, and the environment within countries.

Clearly, this goal is nowhere near full realization. Many countries find it difficult to manage the requirements of individual countries, to say nothing of guaranteeing that their products conform to all regulations. If you want to make sure that you’re safe, you should:

• Understand the full breadth and depth of GHS and get all those involved in meeting its requirements on board in good time.
• Clarify which products are affected at specific dates and take the necessary measures to meet the requirements so you have all the documents and labels in the right format at the right time. After all, every country has its own transitional rules.
• Ensure that all your employees are trained and are familiar with the new pictograms and regulations.
• Ensure that you have a supply of labels and safety data sheets in the national language of each country in which you sell your products. The requirements for the information included in the safety data sheets can also vary by country, as can the template and appearance of the labels.

The international community will continue to drive GHS in the future – the UN has the mandate to do so. It began publishing an updated version of GHS provisions every two years in 2003. The last revision occurred in September 2015.

Nonetheless, the provisions do not directly have the force of law. GHS content comes into legal force only when it is implemented in national law. For example, the European Union implemented GHS with Regulation (EG) No. 1272/2008, the Classification, Labelling, and Packaging (CLP) Regulation, making CLP the binding European classification and labeling system.

We would be pleased to support you in meeting the specifics of GHS in countries and market where you have an interest. If you have questions, please contact us at

We’d also ask you to consider our seminar, The New Hazard Communication Standard (USA) and Hazardous Products Regulations (Canada) based on GHS, being held on February 26 and June 2, 2016.

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