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The Globally Harmonized System of Chemical Classification (GHS)
In March of 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated the Hazard Communication Standard CFR29 1910.1200 (HazCom) to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Chemical Classification (GHS). Since then, chemical manufacturers, distributors, employers and consumers have seen changes in the way that chemical hazards are communicated on labels and safety documentation.

The intent of the new legislation was to make it easier for workers to understand chemical hazards, especially workers who may not speak or read English well, reduce confusion in the workplace, make safety training easier, and result in safer handling and use of chemicals. The new format provides workers with quicker and more efficient access to information on the labels and safety data sheets. The changes also save money for American businesses with productivity improvements projected because of fewer safety data sheet and label updates and simpler new hazard communication training. The new labeling system should also reduce trade barriers by coordinating with systems already in use in other countries.

What this means for employees at UAB
Since these major changes to labeling and safety information apply to all materials that have a chemical hazard, everyone employed by the University or the University Medical System will need to take the basic Hazard Communication training HS200. Many job classifications may not work directly with hazardous chemicals, but since everyday materials such as paints drain cleaners and disinfectants will be relabeled using the new system, everyone needs to know how to recognize and use the new labels and information sheets.

Major Changes
  • Manufacturers must now classify hazardous chemicals according to standardized international criteria.
  • The detailed chemical information sheets are now called Safety Data Sheets instead of Material Safety Data Sheets and the layout of the information is always organized the same way.
  • Pictograms will provide visual clues of the chemical hazards.
  • Signal words: Danger and Warning will be used to describe how dangerous the material is.
Here are the pictograms that appear on safety data sheets and labels:


Labels are organized the same way with the following standard components.
• The Product Identifier or material name
• Supplier Identification to let users know who manufactured or distributed the material
• Precautionary Statements that describe how to protect yourself from the dangers of the material
• Pictograms to provide a visual clue to the hazards.
• Signal Words that describe the relative hazard, just like on the safety data sheet
• Hazard Statements that describe the characteristic that makes the material dangerous
• Supplemental Information that may give contact information for getting additional information or contacting the manufacturer.


Safety Data Sheets have 16 Required Elements all listed in the same order. In addition, the information in section 2 will include the same pictograms and warnings as the information on the label. Here are the required sections of the new safety data sheets.

Section 1, Identification
Section 2, Hazard(s) identification
Section 3, Composition/information on ingredients
Section 4, First-aid measures
Section 5, Fire-fighting measures
Section 6, Accidental release measures
Section 7, Handling and storage
Section 8, Exposure controls/personal protection
Section 9, Physical and chemical properties
Section 10, Stability and reactivity
Section 11, Toxicological information
Section 12, Ecological information
Section 13, Disposal considerations
Section 14, Transport information
Section 15, Regulatory information
Section 16, other information

For Additional Information
HAZCOM Course Assignments
HAZCOM Frequently Asked Questions

OSHA Regulations
HS200: Hazardous Communication

Quick References

The GHS "Purple Book" – in multiple languages.
GHS Pictograms UNECE