GHS Study: Implementation Gaps Around the World

Researchers from Sweden and the Netherlands have undertaken the first study of implementation of
standards established by the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals around the world. In their closing report, the authors report significant gaps. According to the study, by April 2017, only 50 countries had fully aligned GHS standards with national law. Some 15 countries had done so partially, and 128 countries had not done so at all.

In their analysis of the situation, the authors trace the deficient implementation to two key factors:

  1. A lack of motivation and enforcement on the part of government
  2. A lack of regulatory personnel

The study found yet another important context for the deficiency: The higher the per capita level of income, the greater the likelihood that GHS will be implemented.

The countries that have fully implemented GHS in national law include the 28 EU nations, Zambia and Mauritius in Africa, and Ecuador as the only Latin American country. The United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Montenegro, and Georgia has partially implemented GHS. However, GHS regulations do not yet apply in a single Arabian country.

In 2002, the UN announced that GHS should be implemented internationally by 2008. This goal was clearly not reached.

Along with the income level in individual countries, the authors have identified a variety of other factors that favor comprehensive introduction of the standards. These factors include trade openness, occupational
safety, chemicals management, and international cooperation. Some countries receive external support, such as Zambia (from the UN) and Vietnam (from the Swedish chemicals agency, KEMI).

You can order the new GHS guidelines from the UNECE Web site. Also see our blog entry, GHS: The Ultimate Overview.

If you need any support related to GHS guidelines, please contact us at

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