Globally Harmonized System FAQs

Globally Harmonized System FAQs

We published an article on the new globally harmonized system ruling on July 31st that stated that any company dealing with job site safety, on-site safety, or safety in the workplace must be trained on it before December 1, 2013, or they will not be in compliance with OSHA. In light of the new ruling, a lot of employees, supervisors, and companies are worried and concerned about what this new ruling means to them and what they need to do to get in line with regulations and be fully compliant with OSHA standards. To help more of you understand the ruling and how it will affect you, we’ve  compiled a list of frequently asked questions about the globally harmonized system ruling and answered them for you.

What is the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)?

The GHS is the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The system establishes rules and regulations for hazardous chemicals in transportation, use in the workplace, consumer use, and special rules and regulations for pesticides. The GHS also contains new Material Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) requirements and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) requirements along with new hazard symbols. These set the standards for:

  • Classifying chemicals. 
  • Hazard symbols.
  • Requirements for labeling.
  • MSDS requirements.

All of this is published by the UN in its “Purple Book” which you can purchase here.

The GHS was put in place to harmonize the inconsistencies between various national and regional systems that control the classification of chemicals. The GHS aims to establish a system that everyone uses for classifying hazardous materials and give warnings to employees. All of this is meant to improve safety, lower supplier costs, and make it much easier to internationally ship and sell chemical materials and products. The GHS also wants to ensure employees worldwide receive the same level of protection while using these materials and products.

globally harmonized system

Who is affected by GHS and who has to comply?

GHS deals with any company or business that uses or has chemicals within the workplace. All employers who have hazardous materials or chemicals are required to have labels and safety data sheets for any employees who could possibly be exposed. They are also required to train their employees on the proper handling and care of these chemicals.

What specifically does the new GHS ruling affect?

The new GHS ruling directly affects 3 things:

  • Labeling-GHS will establish new labeling requirements, standardized pictograms, signal words, and hazard statements. 
  • Classification-GHS will establish a single, common system of chemical classification that everyone can follow.
  • MSDS-MSDS will become Safety Data Sheets (SDS). There are 16 sections in the new SDS with a set order along with information requirements.

Does the new GHS ruling affect the Transportation of Dangerous Goods or Hazardous Materials?

Despite the fact that some of the changes in classifications for flammables, toxic materials, and environmental hazards have been somewhat aligned in regulations (i.e IMDG), the new GHS DOES NOT apply to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods or Hazardous Materials.

What is the deadlines apply to employees for the adoption of the new GHS ruling?

The effective deadline date for the training of employees is December 1, 2013. You are required to have all employees who will be exposed to hazardous chemical trained on the new labeling and SDS formats.

Are ALL employees required to be trained?

Yes. Any employee that will be exposed to hazardous materials or chemicals MUST be trained by December 1, 2013.

Does Safety Partners offer GHS training? 

Yes, Safety Partners offers two classes depending on the level of experience of the employee. You can view the two classes we offer in our Global Harmonization Training blog.

globally harmonized system

What other deadlines should companies and employees be aware of in regards to the adoption of the new GHS regulations for Systems and Processes?

  • December 1, 2013-All employees trained on new label elements and SDS format. 
  • June 1, 2015-Be in compliance with ALL modified provisions of the final rule.
  • December 1, 2015-Distributors may transport materials labeled by manufacturers under the old system until this date.
  • June 1, 2016-Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication programs where necessary while providing added employee training for newly recognized physical and health hazards. 
  • Transition Period-During the transitional period, all chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers must comply with 29 CFR 1910.1200 (the new ruling), the current standard, or both.

How will the new GHS impact my MSDSs?

The new GHS system has a newly updated SDS that will replace the old MSDS. The GHS system is made up of 16 sections that read:

  1. Identification.
  2. Hazard(s) Identification.
  3. Composition/Information on Ingredients.
  4. First aid measures.
  5. Fire fighting measures.
  6. Accidental release measures.
  7. Handling and storage.
  8. Exposure controls/Person protection.
  9. Physical and chemical properties.
  10. Stability and reactivity.
  11. Toxicological information.
  12. Ecological information.
  13. Disposal considerations.
  14. Transport information.
  15. Regulatory information.
  16. Other information.

Do I need to update my MSDS? 

Yes, your product will have to be reclassified under the new GHS system.

globally harmonized system

How can we be compliant if we only have a black and white printer?

Since the new GHS pictograms need to be printed in red and black, a simple black and white printer won’t do the trick. You can but pictogram labels to stick on your current labels, or you can buy preprinted stock that already has the red borders on them. If you’re having trouble, feel free to contact Safety Partners regarding this.

What printers ARE GHS compliant?

Two color CAB printers will give you the capability to print in black and red along. Color printers also will allow you to print what you need.

How are “articles” regulated by OSHA under the new revisions to HAZCOM 2012? 

Articles were not affected by the new GHS ruling.

Where can I go to ask additional questions regarding OSHA’s new GHS ruling? 

Feel free ton contact Safety Partners at 877-723-3021 or go to our contact page here. We will be more than willing to help you understand and comprehend the new Globally Harmonized System ruling. Also, remember that we offer two classes specifically designed for Global Harmonization Training.

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About The Author
Brett Gordon is a writer for Safety Partners, LTD.

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