What is GHS?

The GHS is an acronym for The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.  It is a system for harmonizing hazard classification criteria and chemical hazard communication elements worldwide.  The GHS is not a regulation; rather it is a framework or guidance for classifying and labeling hazardous chemicals.  The purpose of classification under the GHS is to provide harmonized information to users of chemicals with the goal of enhancing protection of human health and the environment.

Why do we need the GHS?

 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are many benefits to global implementation of the GHS.  It is anticipated that application of the GHS will:

 

  • Enhance the protection of human health and the environment by providing an internationally understood system,
  • Provide a recognized framework to develop regulations for those countries without existing systems,
  • Facilitate international trade in chemicals whose hazards have been identified on an international basis,
  • Reduce the need for testing and evaluation against multiple classification systems.

Benefits to companies include:

 

  • A safer work environment and improved relations with employees,
  • An increase in efficiency and reduced costs from compliance with hazard communication regulations,
  • Application of expert systems resulting in maximizing expert resources and minimizing labor and costs,
  • Facilitation of electronic transmission systems with international scope,
  • Expanded use of training programs on health and safety,
  • Reduced costs due to fewer accidents and illness,
  • Improved corporate image and credibility.
    • Improved safety for workers and others through consistent and simplified communications on chemical hazards and practices to follow for safe handling and use,
    • Greater awareness of hazards, resulting in safer use of chemicals in the workplace and in the home.

 

Benefits to workers and members of the public include:


  • Improved safety for workers and others through consistent and simplified communications on chemical hazards and practices to follow for safe handling and use,
  • Greater awareness of hazards, resulting in safer use of chemicals in the workplace and in the home.

 

 

GHS Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Q.        How will the user know the SDS is the new GHS version?

A.        The SDS sheet will be labeled Safety Data Sheet and not Material Safety Data Sheet, will contain the 16 specified sections, and have its GHS classification and Pictograms in Section 2 if applicable.

Q.        When do the new SDS sheets and labels have to be provided by manufacturer?

A.        June 1, 2015

 

Q.        When do the new SDS sheets and labels have to be provided by the distributor?

A.        New SDS sheets must be provided by June 1, 2015.  New labels by December 1, 2015

 

Q.        Is there a deadline for end users to use chemicals with current labeling?

A.        No, currently OSHA has not issued any use date.  From and OSHA perspective, customers may use current inventories until they are depleted.

 

Q.        Will a facility need to keep old MSDS sheets?

A.        Yes. Manufacturers, distributors and end user employers must keep old safety data sheets for 30 years or equivalent records containing the chemical identity and information.

 

Q.        During the transition period, June 1, 2015 until December 1, 2015, can an end user have the option to use wither the old MSDS or the new SDS sheet?

A.        No.  A distributor or end user employer should acquire or request the GHS SDS by June 1, 2015.  A distributor can continue to sell the older version label until December 1, 2015.  A customer can continue to use a product with the older version label but must refer to the new GHS SDS for the product.

 

Q.        Could there be more than one GHS Pictogram on a label and SDS?

A.        Yes.  If there is more than one hazard, multiple Pictograms may be used

Q.        If the product is not classified hazardous, will it require a Pictogram?

A.        No, only chemicals classified as hazardous.

 

Q.        Can Pictograms have a black border?

A.        No.  The Pictogram must have a red border, white background and black hazard symbols.

 

Q.        Will disinfectant and hand sanitizer products have the GHS labeling requirements?

A.        No.  Disinfectants are regulated by U.S. EPA and hand sanitizers are regulated by the U.S. FDA and will continue to provide the criteria for their labels.

 

Q.        Do I need to have an SDS for every chemical used in the facility?

A.        No, only if it is a hazardous material.  But as a best practice users should request SDS for all chemical products used by an employee in their normal job function.

 

Q.        Will vendors continue to make secondary labeling available?

A.        Some vendors will.

 

Q.        Will DOT Hazard Labels be on product containers in addition to the new GHS Pictograms?

A.        Potentially.  Shipping cartons and containers will have DOT hazard labels and products containers will have the GHS Pictograms.  If a product container is also the shipping container, such as a 55 gal drum, both the hazard label and the GHS Pictograms will appear on it.

 

Q.        Do I need to update the facility HAZCOM Program with the new GHS requirements?

A.        Yes