Navigating the complexities of compliance with the Globally Harmonized System


Navigating the complexities of compliance with the Globally Harmonized System

Comprehending compliance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) can prove to be difficult for firms that are part of the production, transportation, handling and disposal of chemicals. GHS is a globally acceptable measure which seeks to standardize classification as well as labeling of chemicals hence enhancing their safety during transportation, handling or making use for instance. Following this structured guide will ensure that your business is compliant with GHS regulations.

1. Understanding GHS Basics

What is GHS?

Objective: To ensure health, safety, and environmental protection with a consistent format in classifying and communicating chemical hazards.

Elements: GHS posits specific criteria for the classification of health, physical, and environmental hazards, along with the standardized label elements as pictograms, signal words, and hazard statements and safety data sheets.

2. Familiarize Yourself with Local GHS Requirements

GHS has been embraced by many countries, but the depth and specifics may vary.

Local Requirements: Know how GHS is embraced in your jurisdiction. For example, in the U.S., GHS is embraced under the Hazard Communication Standard of OSHA, while in the EU, it is embraced in the CLP Regulation.

Updates and Changes: Most regulatory bodies update their requirements regularly; thus, follow up on the changes.

3. Classify Chemicals According to GHS Criteria

Identify Hazards: Assess chemical hazards based on GHS criteria for health, environmental, and physical hazards.

Documentation: Keep good and thorough records on how each chemical is classified, data used, and methods of assessment.

4. Labeling and Safety Data Sheets

Labels: Make sure all containers are marked with GHS compliant pictograms, signal words, hazard statements, and precautionary statements.

SDS: Prepare and maintain GHS-compliant Safety Data Sheets for each chemical, which should be accessible to all employees who handle the chemicals.

5. Train Employees

Training Programs: Educate employees on the GHS system and specific hazards that result from the chemicals they handle in addition to the labeling components and SDS information.

Regular Updates: Provide training updates whenever new hazardous chemicals are developed or regulations are altered. Chemical regulatory intelligence tools can help to track new changes in the regulatory field.

6. Internal Audit and Compliance Review

Regular Audits: Audit periodically to ensure continued GHS compliance.

Action Plan: Have an action plan prepared to correct any deficiency identified in the audits.

7. Reporting and Documentation

Incidents: Ensure all chemical incidents are reported to the local authority as required.

Record Keeping: Keep records of all decisions of GHS classification, hazard assessments, training activities and compliance audits.

8. Leverage Technology and Expertise

Software Solutions: Consider using specialized software to manage chemical data; labeling and SDS generation; and regulatory change tracking.

Consult Experts: Consult regulatory experts or legal counsel with expertise in chemical regulations for advice on complex or ambiguous situations and for ways companies can use chemical regulatory intelligence portal to stay abreast of new chemical regulatory developments.

9. Engage with Supply Chain Partners

Communication: Clear communication and GHS compliant information and documents exchange with suppliers and with downstream users.

Contracts: Make GHS compliance a part of contracts and agreements.


GHS compliance is not just a regulatory requirement but also a part of workplace safety and environmental protection. By following the above steps in a systematic way, companies can better manage their chemical hazards and minimize risks associated with hazardous chemicals.

Keep in mind that every jurisdiction may take a different approach for GHS implementation, and staying on top of these differences will help ensure that your compliance efforts are effective and supportive of local regulations.

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