GHS of classification and labeling

The globally harmonized system (GHS) of classification and labeling was started in 1992 and developed by the United Nations (UN). It is an internationally harmonized approach to classification and labeling that provides the foundation for national programs to ensure the safe use, transport and disposal of chemicals.

GHS should be seen as a collection of building blocks that countries can select from for transposition in their own legislations provided that a minimum of key criteria are respected. For example, some countries may choose not to apply certain defined classes of classification.

The GHS document, also known as the Purple Book, provides guidance and a practical toolbox that includes:
  • Definition and classification of chemicals by types of hazard – physical, health or environmental
  • Harmonized hazard communication elements, including labels and safety data sheets.

GHS also provides recommendations on the transport of dangerous goods, or the Orange Book, that include provisions for classification, packaging, labeling/placarding & marking, and preparation of transport documents.

Certain countries have already adopted GHS while others are preparing to do so in the near future. The GHS implementation usually happens in 2 steps: first, the producers and a couple of years later, downstream users.

The use of the UNECE logo is restricted to the Product Safety Guide only. Its reproduction on any public webpage or publication is not allowed.