GHS: An Overview
The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is an internationally agreed-upon standard managed by the United Nations. Prior to this standard, numerous hazardous classification systems were used around the world. The GHS was instituted to standardize hazardous material classification and labelling schemes in the global economy. Standard phrases and pictograms are now used to communicate chemical hazards worldwide.
In accordance with the GHS, all labels on chemical containers in the workplace must contain the name, address and telephone number of the Manufacturer and Product Identifier or “Name” of the product.
Along with the manufacturer/importer information and the identifier of the chemical, the chemical label must also contain a signal word, a hazard statement, precautionary statements and pictograms.
GHS: Signal Word
A signal word is used to indicate the relative level of hazard severity of the chemical presents. The two signal words used to describe the severity of the hazard includes 1.) Danger (for more severe hazards) and 2.) Warning (for less severe hazard).
GHS: Hazard Statement
A hazard statement is a statement assigned to a hazard class and category that describes the nature of the hazard(s) and hazard level of the chemical. For example: “Fatal if swallowed”.
GHS: Precautionary Statement
A precautionary statement is a phrase that describes recommended measures that should be taken to minimize or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposure, improper storage or improper handling. Precautionary Statement categories include Prevention, Response, Storage, and Disposal.
Pictograms include a black symbol, a red diamond border and a white background. The eight designated pictograms and one non-mandatory Pictogram are intended to graphically convey specific information about the hazards of a chemical.
Supplemental information may also be included on the label, if necessary. A sample GHS label is below.