What does GHS Stand For?

 In Product Safety, SDS: Safety Data Sheets

By: Kirsten Alcock, Manager of Product Safety, email

The most frequently asked question in my field is what is the GHS and what does it stand for? The GHS refers to the Globally Harmonized System but there isn’t anything global about it.

There is a very large misconception that one SDS can be used throughout the world. Although this would be ideal, this is not the case. One SDS cannot be used and sent to all countries. Each and every country has their own requirements and before you sell your product to those countries, be sure to check what their regulations are. Not all countries have adopted the GHS so although you may be using a version of the GHS within your country, the country you intend to sell to may not be using that system at all.

There are multiple versions of the GHS and each country who adopted it has their own regulations in addition to the GHS.

Let’s take a quick look at Canada. Canada is currently on Version 5 of  the GHS however, we plan on moving to later versions of the GHS.  Although you may have brought your product from being compliant with WHMIS 1988 to WHMIS 2015, this will too change. We are currently pending information from Health Canada on when they would like to proceed with moving forward and what exactly we will be adopting when we do move to a later version. At this point in time, we have been advised that we will be moving to Version 7 but will we be adopting all endpoints? What new classifications will be coming down the line?

In addition to Canada adopting GHS Version 5, we have our own Trade Secret requirements that are mandatory. Section 3 of the SDS is where disclosure of the hazardous chemicals is required. If you plan on claiming Trade Secret in Canada, this impacts how you disclose information within this section. In Canada, you are required to work with the HMIRA if you’d like to claim Trade Secret for a CAS number and chemical name. Other countries do not follow the same requirements for claiming Trade Secret.

Canada also has specific classifications for specific chemicals. Many are not aware of this fact so although your product may have one classification in one country, it could be completely different in another.

If you need help with the authoring of a SDS that is compliant for Canada or the US, please contact us. We can ensure that your SDS will meet compliance for both of these countries. Although there are differences in the requirements between the countries, we can provide you with an SDS that will not only meet compliance with format, but we can provide an SDS in English/Canadian French and Spanish for your users.

Dell Tech
Kirsten Alcock, B.Sc. (Hons) 
Manager, Product Safety Group

Dell Tech has provided professional, confidential consulting services to the chemical specialty

industry in Canada, the USA, Europe, and Asia for the last 40 years.

Contact us today for more information.



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