Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals

The pictogram for harmful substances of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is an internationally agreed-upon standard managed by the United Nations that was set up to replace the assortment of hazardous material classification and labelling schemes previously used around the world. Core elements of the GHS include standardized hazard testing criteria, universal warning pictograms, and harmonized safety data sheets which provide users of dangerous goods with a host of information. The system acts as a complement to the UN Numbered system of regulated hazardous material transport. Implementation is managed through the UN Secretariat. Although adoption has taken time, as of 2017, the system has been enacted to significant extents in most major countries of the world.[1] This includes the European Union, which has implemented the United Nations' GHS into EU law as the CLP Regulation, and United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

History[]

Before the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) was created and implemented, there were many different regulations on hazard classification in use in different countries, resulting in multiple standards, classifications and labels for the same hazard. Given the $1.7 trillion per year international trade in chemicals requiring hazard classification, the cost of compliance with multiple systems of classification and labeling is significant. Developing a worldwide standard accepted as an alternative to local and regional systems presented an opportunity to reduce cost and improve compliance.[2]

The GHS development began at the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development by the United Nations[3] also called Earth Summit (1992) when the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), various governments and other stakeholders agreed that "A globally harmonized hazard classification and compatible labelling system, including material safety data sheets and easily understandable symbols, should be available if feasible, by the year 2000".[4]

The universal standard for all countries was to replace all the diverse classification systems; however, it is not a compulsory provision of any treaty. The GHS provides a common infrastructure for participating countries to use when implementing a hazard classification and Hazard Communication Standard.[2]

Hazard classification[]

The GHS classification system is a complex system with data obtained from tests, literature, and practical experience. The hazards of a substanse is defined in classes of hazards and categories of severity.

The main elements of the hazard classification criteria are summarized below:

Physical hazards[]

Substances or articles are assigned to 8 different hazard classes largely based on the United Nations Dangerous Goods System.[5]: 59–60  Additions and changes have been necessary since the scope of the GHS includes all target audiences.

  1. Explosives, which are assigned to one of six subcategories depending on the type of hazard they present, as used in the UN Dangerous Goods System.
  2. Gases are category 1 flammable if they start to flame in a range in air at 20 °C (68 °F) and a standard pressure of 101.3 kPa. Category 2 is Non flammable and non toxic gases, and category 3 is toxic gases. Substances and mixtures of this hazard class are assigned to one of two hazard categories on the basis of the outcome of the test or calculation method.
  3. A flammable liquid is a liquid with a flash point of not more than 93 °C (199.4 °F). Substances and mixtures of this hazard class are assigned to one of four hazard categories on the basis of the flash point and boiling point. A pyrophoric liquid is a liquid that, even in small quantities, is liable to ignite within five minutes after coming into contact with air. Substances and mixtures of this hazard class are assigned to a single hazard category on the basis of the outcome of the UN Test N.3.
  4. A flammable solid is one that is readily combustible or may cause or contribute to fire through friction. Readily combustible solids are powdered, granular, or pasty substances which are dangerous if they can be easily ignited by brief contact with an ignition source, such as a burning match, and if the flame spreads rapidly. it is further divided into
    • flammable solids,
    • polymerizing substances
  5. self-reactive substances, are thermally unstable solids liable to undergo a strongly exothermic thermal decomposition even without participation of oxygen (air), other than materials classified as explosive, organic peroxides or as oxidizing.
  6. pyrophoric substance more colloquially described as spontaneously combusting substances are those solids or liquids that even in small quantities are liable to ignite within five minutes after coming into contact with air. Substances and mixtures of this hazard class are assigned to a single hazard category on the basis of the outcome of the UN Test N.2.
  7. Self-heating substances A self-heating solids or liquids, other than a pyrophoric substance, is one which, by reaction with air and without energy supply, are liable to self-heat. Substances and mixtures of this hazard class are assigned to one of two hazard categories on the basis of the outcome of the UN Test N.4. Substances which on contact with water emit flammable gases are liable to become spontaneously flammable or to give off flammable gases in dangerous quantities. Substances and mixtures of this hazard class are assigned to one of three hazard categories on the basis of the outcome of UN Test N.5, which measures gas evolution and speed of evolution. Flammable aerosols can be classified as Class 1 or Class 2 if they contain any component, which is classified as flammable.
  8. Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides contain
    • category 1: oxidizing substances and
    • category 2: organic peroxides, organic liquids or solids that contain the bivalent -O-O- structure and may be considered a derivative of hydrogen peroxide, where one or both of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced by organic radicals. The term also includes organic peroxide formulations (mixtures).
    Substances and mixtures of this hazard class are assigned to one of seven 'Types', A to G, on the basis of the outcome of the UN Test Series A to H.
  9. Radioactive substances
  10. Substances corrosive to metal are substances or mixtures that by chemical action will materially damage or even destroy metals. These substances or mixtures are classified in a single hazard category on the basis of tests (Steel: ISO 9328 (II): 1991 - Steel type P235; Aluminum: ASTM G31-72 (1990) - non-clad types 7075-T6 or AZ5GU-T66). The GHS criteria are a corrosion rate on steel or aluminum surfaces exceeding 6.25 mm (0.246063in) per year at a test temperature of 55 °C (131°F).
  11. Miscellaneous dangerous substances

Health hazards[]

Substitute substances[]

Sometimes companies are able to replace hazardous substances with substances featuring a reduced health risk. As an assistance to assess possible substitute substances, the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) has developed the Column Model. On the basis of just a small amount of information on a product, substitute substances can be evaluated with the support of this table. The current version from 2020 already includes the amendments of the 12th CLP Adaptation Regulation 2019/521.[7]

Environmental hazards[]

Classification of mixtures[]

The GHS approach to the classification of mixtures for health and environmental hazards is also complex. It uses a tiered approach and is dependent upon the amount of information available for the mixture itself and for its components. Principles that have been developed for the classification of mixtures, drawing on existing systems such as the European Union (EU) system for classification of preparations laid down in Directive 1999/45/EC. The process for the classification of mixtures is based on the following steps:

  1. Where toxicological or ecotoxicological test data are available for the mixture itself, the classification of the mixture will be based on that data;
  2. Where test data are not available for the mixture itself, then the appropriate bridging principles should be applied, which uses test data for components and/or similar mixtures;
  3. If (1) test data are not available for the mixture itself, and (2) the bridging principles cannot be applied, then use the calculation or cutoff values described in the specific endpoint to classify the mixture.

Testing requirements[]

The GHS document does not include testing requirements for substances or mixtures. In fact, one of the main goals of the GHS is to reduce the need for animal testing. The GHS criteria for determining health and environmental hazards are test method neutral, allowing different approaches as long as they are scientifically sound and validated according to international procedures and criteria already referred to in existing systems. Test data already generated for the classification of chemicals under existing systems should be accepted when classifying these chemicals under the GHS, thereby avoiding duplicative testing and the unnecessary use of test animals. The GHS physical hazard criteria are linked to specific UN test methods. It is assumed that mixtures will be tested for physical hazards.

Hazard communication[]

Per GHS, hazards need to be communicated:[citation needed]

Comprehensibility is challenging for a single culture and language, so global harmonization is complex. The GHS Purple Book includes a comprehensibility-testing instrument in Annex 6. Factors that were considered in developing the GHS communication tools include:[citation needed]

GHS label elements []

The symbol for substances hazardous to the human health as implemented by the GHS.

The standardized label elements included in the GHS are:

The additional label elements included in the GHS are:

GHS label format[]

The GHS includes directions for application of the hazard communication elements on the label. In particular, it specifies for each hazard, and for each class within the hazard, what signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement should be used. The GHS hazard pictograms, signal words and hazard statements should be located together on the label. The actual label format or layout is not specified in the GHS. National authorities may choose to specify where information should appear on the label or allow supplier discretion. There has been discussion about the size of GHS pictograms and that a GHS pictogram might be confused with a transport pictogram or "diamond". Transport pictograms are different in appearance than the GHS pictograms. Annex 7 of the Purple Book explains how the GHS pictograms are expected to be proportional to the size of the label text so that generally the GHS pictograms would be smaller than the transport pictograms.[citation needed]

Safety data sheet[]

The safety data sheet or SDS (The GHS dropped the word "material" from material safety data sheet in its final revisions) is specifically aimed at use in the workplace. It should provide comprehensive information about the chemical product that allows employers and workers to obtain concise, relevant and accurate information in perspective to the hazards, uses and risk management of the chemical product in the workplace. While there were some differences in existing industry recommendations and country specific requirements, there was agreement on a 16 section SDS to include the following headings in the order specified:[9]

  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 control/ personal protection
  9. Physical and chemical properties
  10. chemical stability and reactivity
  11. Toxicological information
  12. Ecological information
  13. Disposal considerations
  14. Transport information
  15. Regulatory information
  16. Other information

The primary difference between the GHS and the international industry recommendations is that sections 2 and 3 have been reversed in order. The GHS SDS headings, sequence and content are similar to the ISO, European Union and ANSI MSDS/SDS requirements. The SDS should provide a clear description of the data used to identify the hazards. A table comparing the content and format of a MSDS/SDS versus the GHS SDS is provided in Appendix A of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) GHS guidance.[10]

Training[]

Current training procedures for Hazard Communication in the United States are more detailed than the GHS training recommendations.[2] Educating employees on the updated chemical and product classifications and related pictograms, signal words, hazard statements and precautionary measures at the level of detail by the national authority represents the greatest training challenge. Training will be a key component of the overall GHS approach and should incorporate information as it is introduced into the workplace. Employees and emergency responders will need to be trained on all new program elements, from hazard statements to pictograms. Bear in mind, if the importation of products using only GHS labeling is permitted prior to its adoption in the United States and Canada, employers may need to begin employee training earlier than expected.

Implementation[]

The United Nations goal was broad international adoption, and as of 2017, GHS has been adopted to varying degrees in nearly all major countries.

A flammable warning symbol on the back of a European Axe deodorant spray.

GHS adoption by country:

  1. United Kingdom: Implemented under EU directive by REACH regulations, this may be subject to change due to Brexit.

See also[]

References[]

  1. ^ "GHS implementation - Transport - UNECE". www.unece.org. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  2. ^ a b c "A Guide to The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals" (PDF). Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States of America. OSHA, U.S.A. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  3. ^ Health and Safety Executive (n.d.). "UK Government HSE website". UK Government.
  4. ^ "GHS: What's Next? | Visual.ly". visual.ly. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  5. ^ UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods - Model Regulations, Rev. 19 Volume I Archived November 17, 2016, at the Wayback Machine 2015, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, retrieved 6 November 2015
  6. ^ "Part 3 Health Hazards" (PDF). Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Second revised ion. United Nations. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  7. ^ Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance: The GHS Column Model as an aid to selecting substitute substances
  8. ^ "GHS pictograms - Transport - UNECE". www.unece.org. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  9. ^ "Understanding The GHS SDS Sections". Archived from the original on 2019-12-26. Retrieved 2017-02-25.
  10. ^ "Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals - GHS". www.osha.gov. Archived from the original on 2007-07-02. Retrieved 2015-06-18.
  11. ^ Hazardous chemicals Archived November 16, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Implementation of GHS in Brazil Archived October 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ WHMIS Transition
  14. ^ a b c GHS in China, Korea and Japan 2011 Archived April 13, 2016, at the Wayback Machine cirs-reach.com
  15. ^ European Commission CLP/GHS - Classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures Archived April 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ GHS in Malaysia Archived December 25, 2016, at the Wayback Machine chemsafetypro.com
  17. ^ "Diario Oficial de la Federación". Diario Oficial de la Federación. 2015.
  18. ^ "Pakistan Industrial Label Review | Nexreg". www.nexreg.com. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  19. ^ GHS in Philippines Archived September 15, 2016, at the Wayback Machine chemsafetypro.com
  20. ^ "GHS in Russia". www.chemsafetypro.com. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  21. ^ GHS in Taiwan Archived September 15, 2016, at the Wayback Machine chemsafetypro.com
  22. ^ GHS in Thailand Archived December 25, 2016, at the Wayback Machine chemsafetypro.com
  23. ^ GHS in Turkey Archived August 7, 2016, at the Wayback Machine chemsafetypro.com
  24. ^ "FAQs on Hazard Communication Standard, GHS Labels, Safety Data Sheets, HazCom Training". www.jjkeller.com. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  25. ^ Hazard Communication Archived December 14, 2016, at the Wayback Machine OSHA, n.d.
  26. ^ Hazard Communication System Final Rule - Fact Sheet Archived November 29, 2016, at the Wayback Machine OSHA, n.d.
  27. ^ "Policy of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS)". CPSC.gov. 2017-03-31. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  28. ^ "MODIFICACION DEL DECRETO 307/009. ETIQUETADO DE PRODUCTOS QUIMICOS. SISTEMA GLOBALMENTE ARMONIZADO". IMPO. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  29. ^ GHS in Vietnam Archived December 25, 2016, at the Wayback Machine chemsafetypro.com

Bibliography[]

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