Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is a system of classification and labeling of chemicals. It is internationally approved and created by the United Nations as guidance for handling hazardous chemicals, including providing information (SDS, labels) as well as protective measures for chemical users and the protection of human and environmental safety and health. The GHS is a voluntary international system. Many countries are already using the globally harmonized system from the United Nations to classify and label hazardous chemicals. OSHA adopted GHS guidance and revised the Hazardous Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the globally harmonized system of classification and labeling of chemicals. OSHA adjusted Hazardous Classification, Labels (color printed), Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and Training. Hazardous communication standards, or “Hazcom,” are in the OSHA regulations in order to ensure employers are teaching, training, and providing tools to protect employees’ health and safety at the workplace. Educating employees on chemical classification, pictograms, signal words, and safety measures is very important for effective hazardous communication. Training is the key component of the GHS in the workplace.

Main hazard classes of the GHS are Explosives, Toxics, Oxidizing Substances Flammables, and Radioactive Substances. Communication in the GHS includes SDS and labels. Labels in the GHS include symbols, signal words, supplier identification, hazard class, and chemical identity. SDS must include hazard identification, chemical identification, firefighting, first aid, accidental measures, ingredient information, disposal information, reactivity, regulatory information, transportation, toxicological and ecological information, and protection information. OSHA requires written information and implementation of the hazardous communication program at the workplace. All employees must be informed of the presence and use of hazardous chemicals at the workplace. Training must be renewed according to OSHA requirements.