Maxx Minutes Blog

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

On June 1, 2015 the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals took effect. This international, standardized approach to hazard communication is meant to offer a logical method to defining health, physical and environmental hazards of chemicals and communicating them in a uniform manner on labels and safety data sheets.
The GHS was developed by the United Nations to establish a cohesive method for conveying information on chemical safety and regulations internationally. While compliance with the Globally Harmonized System is not mandated by any global governing entity, it is currently being required by OSHA of chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard Final Rule requires the following mandatory changes:

  • Hazard classification: Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import. Hazard classification under the new, updated standard provides specific criteria to address health and physical hazards as well as classification of chemical mixtures.
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category.
  • Safety Data Sheets: The new format requires 16 specific sections, ensuring consistency in presentation of important protection information.
  • Information and training: To facilitate understanding of the new system, the new standard required that workers be trained by December 1, 2013 on the new label elements and safety data sheet format, in addition to the current training requirements1.

The anticipated benefits of the Globally Harmonized System are many. OSHA anticipates the modifications will prevent over 500 workplace injuries and illnesses and 43 fatalities annually. 1 It is also expected to:

  • Make for safer work environments through:
    • Improved consistency of hazard information available to employees
    • Enhanced worker comprehension of hazards resulting in safer handling and use of chemicals
  • Provide workers quicker and more efficient access to information on the safety data sheets
  • Save American businesses more than $475 million in productivity improvements
  • Reduce global trade barriers

The GHS has already been implemented by the Department of Transportation (DOT). In addition to OSHA, adoption is currently underway by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Maxxon Corporation is compliant with the new global harmonization standards. Copies of the new SDS Documents have already been e-mailed to all dealers. Hard copies and flash drives with digital copies will soon be mailed as well. Labels on all bags have also been updated to meet the new requirements. Examples of the new labels and SDS Documents are available on the back of this page. Please contact your Regional Representative at (800) 356-7887 if you have questions.

MSDSonline (n.d.) 10 GHS Facts in 60 Seconds. Retrieved May 26, 2015 from

US Department of Labor, Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (n.d.) OSHA Fact Sheet – Hazard Communication Standard Final Rule. Retrieved May 26, 2015 from