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Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

By: Ron Parker, STS,CHST


OSHA has chosen to incorporate the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) as part of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS).  These changes were published in the Federal Registry on March 26, 2012.  MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) have been replaced with SDS (Safety Data Sheets).  This was done to:

OSHA passed the original Hazard communication standard in 1983.  (29 CFR 1910.1200).  Since then:

All employees should have been trained by December 1, 2013 on the new GHS labeling elements and SDS format.  Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers must be in compliance with the new rule by June 1, 2015.  Chemicals that are already labeled with the “old” labels can be shipped until December 1, 2015.  All chemicals shipped from manufacturers or distributors as of December 1, 2015 must have GHS labeling.  Employers must update workplace labeling and hazard communication programs as necessary by June 1, 2016.  During the transition period, employers may comply with the current HAZCOM standard or the new rule.


The modifications to HCS include:

        By adopting GHS for labeling the chemical supplier will use the same verbiage, pictures and messages on their labels to point out hazards.  Workers will be able to understand information on labels better.
Adopting GHS for SDS creates more tools and understanding for:

In summary, incorporating GHS into HCS helps to eliminate confusion created by conflicting national and international requirements.  It will standardize the format for safety data sheets and improve chemical labeling.  It will reduce trade barriers and improve worker safety.



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