Labeling of chemicals by the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is the new regulation for classification and labeling of chemicals on product labels and material Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

The GHS aims to harmonize to a single, global system for classification of chemicals for the workplace and consumer sectors. The system is based on the health, environmental, and physical hazards of substances.

What are the key changes?

Major elements of the GHS are the new classification of the hazards of chemicals and the communication of the hazards and precautionary information using Safety Data Sheets and labels.

With the GHS, standardized hazard statements, signal words, and symbols will appear on the label according to the classification of that chemical or mixture. The new hazard pictograms (formerly: hazard symbols) are the most noticeable change on labels. Most of the GHS pictograms are recognizable replacements to a previous hazard symbol, though 3 pictograms ("exclamation mark", "health hazard" [respiratory], and "gas cylinder") are new introductions.

Where can I get more information?

See our FAQs page to see more on how GHS labeling affects you.

Current information on GHS classification, labels, SDS, and other criteria are available from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

GHS is a dynamic system. The international GHS committee meets twice each year to discuss potential new hazard classes, resolve issues, and update the GHS publication. Check the external link below for information from the United Nations.