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What is GHS?

The Global Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals is a worldwide initiative for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals. The system defines and classifies the hazards of chemical products, and communicates health and safety information on labels and material safety data sheets (MSDS). The primary objective of GHS is better protection of human health and the environment by providing chemical users and handlers with consistent information on chemical hazards.  Standard elements include symbols or hazard pictograms that communicate hazard information, signal words such as “danger” and “warning”, and standardized hazard statements that are used on product labels and safety data sheets (SDS).

The initiative began in 1992 and the new system was developed and adopted by consensus of government and stakeholder representatives. GHS was based on harmonizing existing chemical classification and communication systems that are in place in the U.S., Canada, and the European Union and after 15 years is being adopted worldwide.

The overall goal of GHS is to protect human health and the environment by:

  • Providing a consistent framework for classifying and simplifying hazard communication to minimize risk and exposure resulting in safer handling, transport, and use of chemicals.
  • Promoting safe and sound chemical management worldwide particularly for countries that do not have regulatory systems currently in-place.
  • Facilitating trade by consistently assessing and identifying hazards reducing the need to comply with multiple industry or geographic specific labeling systems.
  • Reducing the need for animal testing

Atrion International facilitates a smooth transition toward GHS by:

  • Providing software and data solutions allowing productive and automated creation of SDS and labels in compliance with GHS legislation
  • Monitoring GHS adoption by different countries ensuring our clients meet their legal obligations in a timely fashion
  • Integrating country specific interpretation of GHS, as well as translations for hazard statements, precautionary statements and more than 6,000 phrases used on SDS, translated in over 40 languages
  • Offering forums for experts within our client base to share their practical experiences with GHS
  • Allowing product compliance through services, where customers can outsource the production of their SDSs and labels by experienced and highly trained authors and regulatory experts.


Facts, background information, dossiers
More about IHS
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