A new global classification system for chemicals.


GHS is a new global classification system for chemicals. It is used to communicate hazards on product labels and safety data sheets (SDS, formerly known in some countries/regions as the material safety data sheet [MSDS]). It has been developed through the United Nations, and applies to products used in many countries and industries.

Is this only an Ecolab initiative?

No. Many countries around the world are incorporating GHS into their national regulations; therefore, making implementation required for the chemical industry. The timelines for GHS implementation are generally dictated by individual countries as they adopt GHS. Ecolab will be rolling out the scheme across the world as each country finalizes their regulatory guidelines. While the many changes may be confusing initially, this will result in the same pictograms, labels and SDSs formats being used globally, facilitating trade as well as protecting chemical users and the environment.


What do the pictograms mean?
Pictograms are graphical representations of the type of hazard that a chemical product is classified as. There are a total of 9 pictograms prescribed by GHS.


What is a Signal Word?
There are two signal words in the GHS system – Danger and Warning. Signal words are used to communicate the level of hazard on both the label and SDS. If the hazard of the product is relatively low, then no signal word is used.


What are Hazard Statements and Precautionary Statements?
GHS classifications have specific hazard and precautionary statements associated with them that can be found on both the label and SDS. There is a single harmonized hazard statement that describes each hazard associated with a product (e.g., Causes eye irritation.). Each hazard also has precautionary statements which supplement hazard information (e.g., Store in a well-vented place).


Does this mean Ecolab products are changing?
No. The products are NOT changing. Only the hazard classification system has changed, hence all products will be assessed to the new criteria and hazard classes, resulting in updated SDS and labels.

What has Ecolab done to prepare for GHS?
Ecolab has taken several steps to be proactive as GHS is adopted by countries around the world. These steps range from monitoring adoption specifics and timelines as countries implement GHS, thoroughly evaluating our product portfolio in light of GHS, to ensuring the right people and systems are in place to meet these challenges. All these efforts translate into Ecolab continuing to deliver first class products and services to our customers in the new regulatory world of GHS.


How to Read a GHS SDS


For additional details, see OSHA's response to Frequently Asked Questions.