United Nations GHS Labels

Regulations Involved

The United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) is an international program that was developed to address the classification of chemicals by type of hazard and harmonizes hazard communication elements, including labels and safety data sheets (SDSs). These regulations are also known as the Purple Book.

These regulations were created to provide an internationally harmonized foundation for national programs dealing with the safe use, transport and disposal of hazardous chemicals and products.

The system was designed with a building block approach in mind, which allows individual countries to choose which GHS hazard classes and categories to incorporate into their national legislation. This means that countries can adopt some but not all the UN GHS classes or categories if they so choose.

The first edition of GHS was adopted in 2002 and published in 2003. The Purple Book has been updated or revised every two years since its implementation.

Who Does This Apply To?

These regulations apply to hazardous substances and mixtures used in industrial workplaces.

The primary audiences of GHS are governments and international institutions, but companies and industry professionals may also find that GHS provides useful guidance and context.

Is This Regulation Mandatory?

These regulations are not mandatory but are instead used as a starting point or guidance for many countries in developing their own hazardous chemical regulations. If available, country specific regulations should be given priority over UN GHS regulations. Individual country legislations are often mandatory, and requirements vary from country to country.

What are the risks if a company chooses not to comply?

There are no company risks in choosing not to comply with UN GHS, however, country specific regulations (if available) are mandatory and the penalty for noncompliance varies from country to country. Countries themselves are more so at risk of not having a comprehensive SDS and label program if they do not implement the basics of the UN GHS.

How Can Nexreg Ensure Your Compliance?

We can provide UN GHS SDSs and labels as an option to clients who are selling into jurisdictions which do not have their own country specific compliance. This could be because those countries do not have clear regulatory requirements or their own national regulations implemented yet.