The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), was developed by the United Nations to standardize the classification and labelling of chemicals. The intent is to create a unified system to reduce barriers to trade, simplify the regulatory burdens for chemical manufacturers and importers, and ensure workers can easily understand the chemical hazards present in the workplace to improve chemical safety. Each country may choose to implement the GHS. The United States has implemented the GHS through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and its Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200.
Why is it important to comply with the GHS system?
The GHS is a unified system of classifying and labelling chemicals. Chemical manufacturers and importers must ensure that they provide downstream users of their chemicals with information regarding the chemical hazards. Manufacturers and importers must first classify the chemicals by identifying the risks and hazards the chemicals pose. After classifying a chemical, the manufacturer or importer must provide safety data sheets (SDS) and chemical labels which provide users with valuable safety information.
Importance of implementing an active regulatory watch on Chemical and Hazardous products
The GHS is not binding and must be implemented in each country before the GHS system becomes a part of a country’s chemical regulations. Countries may implement the GHS with slight differences. Currently, the United States and Canada have entered into an agreement to harmonize their respective GHS regulations to simplify cross-border trade in chemicals. The goal is to create a unified label and SDS format and hazard classification system so that companies producing or importing chemicals may comply with one set of unified chemical regulations. While the two countries have similar requirements, the harmonization efforts may require additional changes that will affect companies providing chemicals to the United States and Canada.