Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

pdf icon Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard is aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), which improves safety and health protection for America’s workers.

The system is used throughout the world by countries including Canada, the European Union, China, Australia, and Japan. The communication standard requires chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate the chemicals they produce or import and provide hazard information to employers and workers by putting labels on containers and preparing safety data sheets.

The standard provides a single set of criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health and physical hazards and specifies hazard communication elements for labeling and safety data sheets.


  • Enhances worker comprehension of hazards, especially for low and limited-literacy workers, reduces confusion in the workplace, facilitates safety training, and results in safer handling and use of chemicals
  • Provides workers efficient access to information on the safety data sheets
  • Results in productivity improvements, fewer safety data sheet and label updates, and simpler training
  • Reduces trade barriers by harmonizing with systems around the world
  • Covers over 43 million workers who produce or handle hazardous chemicals in more than five million workplaces across the country

The Hazard Communication Standard

Hazard classification

Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import and to provide specific criteria to address health and physical hazards as well as classification of chemical mixtures.


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 format requires 16 specific sections, ensuring consistency of important protection information.

Best practices

Chemical users

Continue to update safety data sheets when new ones become available, provide training on the label elements, and update hazard communication programs if new hazards are identified.

Chemical producers

Review hazard information for all chemicals produced or imported, classify chemicals according to the new classification criteria, and update labels and safety data sheets as necessary.

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