The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

Editorial Team

The United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is widely acknowledged to be one of the most significant regulatory changes to affect worldwide workplace health and safety practices in many years.

The GHS promotes a universal approach to classifying and communicating information about chemical hazards, regardless of where chemicals are produced or how the nature of a hazard is determined. The system helps ensure safe production, transport and use of chemicals as they move through the product life cycle.

Regulatory authorities in countries that voluntarily adopt the GHS will implement agreed upon criteria and provisions through their own regulatory processes and procedures. The UN’s GHS document provides countries with regulatory building blocks o develop or modify national programs that address hazard classification, transmittal of information about hazards and associated protective measures.

In the United States, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is in the process of incorporating the GHS

into its Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom). The system is being phased in and will be enforceable under the HazCom Standard by June 1, 2015.

During the transition period, chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers operating in the U.S. may comply with either 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.1200 (the new revised standard, 2012), the current standard or both.

The revised standard was published in the Federal Register on March 26, 2012. The final rule became effective May 25, 2012.

Download UL’s free white paper and learn more about GHS and HazCom standard, including labeling requirements and the full compliance deadlines.