By | January 6, 2017

During the last 15 years, the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) has been adopted by mostly all large economies. Short of India, Saudi Arabia and Iran, the top 20 countries with the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) have implemented GHS.


A lack of harmony

‘Harmonization’ should be the name of the game, yet each country has implemented GHS with a twist on various aspects:

  • based on different revisions (GHS updates every 2 years);
  • publishing an inventory of classified substances some of which are mandatory and others not;
  • not implementing all categories or building blocks in the model regulation
    …or in some cases even creating new ones
  • defining cut-off concentrations for substances in mixture hazard assessments
    … and the list goes on.

In the end, the sum of these differences have a compounding effect and can result in a dramatic impact on end product classifications.

Using country-specific classification lists, let’s consider a simple mixture containing 3% of 1,1,1-tricholoethane and 1% 1,2-dibromoethane. With just these two common hazardous substances, the classifications and labeling elements are significantly different in each jurisdiction. For example, in the United States the product is considered Highly Flammable and Carcinogenic whereas in Japan the product is additionally classified as Toxic and Hazardous to aquatic life.

“The classifications and labeling elements can be significantly different in various jurisdictions.”

Classification is key

Now, there are far more significant impacts than simply depicting these differences on the Safety Data Sheet. Classification also affects compliancy, product transport and packaging, marketability in a country or customer acceptance, product design and so on – and it is for all these reasons that classifying products to align with country specific laws deserves attention and precision.

A good classification and labeling solution will allow you to utilize country-specific classification lists and add classifications based on available data for countries that don’t have lists. This helps you see in a snapshot view each GHS nuance so that you can highlight and contrast potential constraints and opportunities… and then make better informed decisions! Take a look at this report which highlights applicable GHS pictograms and Hazard Statements for a few countries covered in Sphera’s Solution.

“GHS classification report”

For some additional background and insight on GHS variations across various jurisdictions, download our Whitepaper ‘GHS around the Globe’