• Hazard Communication (HAZCOM)

    Global Harmonization System (GHS)

    Who Should Take This Course?

    Employers must train workers on the new label elements and SDS format by December 1, 2013.


    This course is designed to assist workers to meet the NEW Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) training requirement.

    What is the GHS?

    The GHS is an acronym for The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The GHS is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals. It is a logical and comprehensive approach to: Defining health, physical and environmental hazards of chemicals;

    Creating classification processes that use available data on chemicals for comparison with the defined hazard criteria; and

    Communicating hazard information, as well as protective measures, on labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

    Why was the GHS developed?

    The production and use of chemicals is fundamental to all economies. The global chemical business is more than a $1.7 trillion per year enterprise. In the U.S., chemicals are more than a $450 billion business and exports are greater than $80 billion per year.

    Chemicals directly or indirectly affect our lives and are essential to our food, our health, and our lifestyle. The widespread use of chemicals has resulted in the development of sector-specific regulations (transport, production, workplace, agriculture, trade, and consumer products). Having readily available information on the hazardous properties of chemicals, and recommended control measures, allows the production, transport, use and disposal of chemicals to be managed safely. Thus, human health and the environment are protected.

    The sound management of chemicals should include systems through which chemical hazards are identified and communicated to all who are potentially exposed. These groups include workers, consumers, emergency responders and the public. It is important to know what chemicals are present and/or used their hazards to human health and the environment, and the means to control them. A number of classification and labeling systems, each addressing specific use patterns and groups of chemicals, exist at the national, regional and international levels. The existing hazard classification and labeling systems address potential exposure to chemicals in all the types of use settings listed above.

    While the existing laws and regulations are similar, they are different enough to require multiple labels for the same product both within the U.S. and in international trade and to require multiple safety data sheets for the same product in international trade. Several U.S. regulatory agencies and various countries have different requirements for hazard definitions as well as for information to be included on labels or material safety data sheets.

    Does the GHS address training?

    The GHS states in Chapter 1.4, Section1.4.9, the importance of training all target audiences to recognize and interpret label and/or SDS information, and to take appropriate action in response to chemical hazards. Training requirements should be appropriate for and commensurate with the nature of the work or exposure. Key target audiences include workers, emergency responders and also those responsible for developing labels and SDSs. To varying degrees, the training needs of additional target audiences have to be addressed. These should include training for persons involved in transport and strategies required for educating consumers in interpreting label information on products that they use.