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Global Harmonized System

During the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, often referred to as the “Earth Summit”, it was mandated and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly to strengthen international efforts concerning the environmentally sound management of chemicals.

A Coordinating Group for the Harmonization of Chemical Classification Systems (CG/HCCS) was charged with developing, coordinating and managing the system. The system became known as the Global Harmonized System.

The GHS is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals.

It is a logical and comprehensive approach to:

  • Defining health, physical, and environmental hazards of chemicals
  • Creating classification processes that use available data on chemicals for comparison with the defined hazard criteria
  • Communicating hazard information, as well as protective measures, on labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

United States GHS Implementation Schedule

The table below summarizes the phase-in dates required under the revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS)

Completion Date Requirement(s) Who
December 1, 2013 Train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format. Employers
June 1, 2015

December 1, 2015

Compliance with all modified provisions of this final rule, except:
The Distributor shall not ship containers labeled by the chemical manufacturer or importer unless it is a GHS label.
Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers
June 1, 2016 Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Employers

Transition Period to the effective completion dates noted above May comply with either 29 CFR 1910.1200 (the final standard), or the current standard, or both Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers

As a pro-active company IMPACT! is already compliant with the Global Harmonized System. We have acquired the necessary software to develop our Material Safety Data Sheets and our Label program allows us to develop our labels with all the required information and pictograms. In addition not only are we compliant, but our customers get the information they need to be compliant.

What can you expect to change?

On MSD Sheets expect them to be more informative, more detailed health information, added risk codes, and hazard pictograms.

On our labels you will notice the signal words (Warning, Danger, etc), hazard pictograms, and more detailed health information.

As for product identification some of the changes might include the addition of subsidiary hazards. Some chemicals might even change from non-hazardous to hazardous. It all depends on the chemical and the concentration amount.

For Example: Methanol

  • A blend that contains less than 4% methanol might be classified as: Flammable Liquid
  • A blend that has over 4% methanol might be classified as: Flammable Liquid, Toxic

Under the GHS we can expect to see changes like this since this is an international identification program. The products have not changed, it is just how the United Nations, OSHA and DOT want it to be identified.

Hazard Communication Standard Pictogram

As of June 1, 2015, the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) will require pictograms on labels to alert users of the chemical hazards to which they may be exposed. Each pictogram consists of a symbol on a white background framed within ared border and represents a distinct hazard(s). The pictogram on the label is determined by the chemical hazard classification.

HCS Pictograms and Hazards

Health Hazard Flame Exclamation Mark Gas Cylinder Corrosion



Target Organ

Aspiration Toxicity


Self Heating

Emits Flammable


Organic Peroxides
Irritant (skin and

Skin Sensitizer

Acute Toxicity

Narcotic Effects

Respiratory Tract

Hazardous to
Ozone Layer (Non-
Gases Under Pressure Skin Corrosion Burns

Eye Damage

Corrosive to Metals

Exploding Bomb Environment
Skull and
Flame Over Circle
Organic Peroxides
Aquatic Toxicity Aquatic Toxicity (fatal or toxic) Oxidizers

Sample Label

Hazard Communication Safety Data Sheets

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers to provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDSs) to communicate the hazards of hazardous chemical products. As of June 1, 2015, the HCS will require new SDSs to be in a uniform format, and include the section numbers, the headings, and associated information under the headings below:

Sections of Hazard Communication Safety Data Sheets

Section 1, Identification includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use; restrictions on use.

Section 2, Hazard(s) identification includes all hazards regarding the chemical; required label elements.

Section 3, Composition/information on ingredients includes information on chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.

Section 4, First-aid measures includes important symptoms/ effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.

Section 5, Fire-fighting measures lists suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.

Section 6, Accidental release measures lists emergency procedures; protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.

Section 7, Handling and storage lists precautions for safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities.

Section 8, Exposure controls/personal protection lists OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs); Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); appropriate engineering controls; personal protective equipment (PPE).

Section 9, Physical and chemical properties lists the chemical’s characteristics.

Section 10, Stability and reactivity lists chemical stability and possibility of hazardous reactions.