The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is designed to improve health and safety protection for workers who handle chemicals. The GHS standardizes the information that must be displayed on containers and Safety Data Sheets, formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created a timeline for implementation of GHS standards in the United States:GHS timeline


Are Your Employees Ready?

Although the deadline for training employees was December 1, 2013, many businesses have not adequately prepared their employees to understand the new labels. GHS requirements are different from the previous Hazard Communication Standard in several ways:

  • Hazard Classification explaining the health and physical hazards
  • Labels including product identifiers, signal words, pictograms, hazard statements, and precautionary statements
  • Safety Data Sheets with 16 sections

These additions to labels will help reduce confusion about the handling of chemicals and ensure that workers understand the hazards of the materials they work with.

By implementing the United Nations’ GHS, the United States will join the global effort of effective and understandable hazard communication. The required pictograms will convey the danger of a chemical even if the label is written in a different language.

Businesses can ship products under the old Hazard Communication Standard until December 1, 2015. That date may seem far away, but your employees should be trained and familiar with the new system as soon as possible. OSHA has a detailed Guide to the GHS that explains how the GHS was developed, hazard classifications, and label elements.

If you still need to implement GHS labels training, we have the resources you need. Our SlideShare explains the information on the new labels and includes a description of each of the nine pictograms.