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Which Countries Follow Which Edition of GHS?

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, most commonly referred to as GHS, is a United Nations-born system that has been agreed upon internationally as a means to unify, or ‘harmonize’, the way in which countries across the globe treat chemical substances and mixtures. If you’re a professional in the fields of environmental, health and safety, facilities, or product compliance, chances are that you’re intimately familiar with the GHS standard.

Although well-intentioned, GHS, thus far, has struggled to accomplish its initial mission. Since the first revision in 2005, GHS has undergone five additional revisions, one every two years (the sixth revision was released in 2015 and has yet to be fully implemented anywhere). These revisions, published in a document referred to as ‘The Purple Book’, provide a vessel for new provisions and considerations to be accounted for in the chemical and product compliance world. This is unquestionably necessary, but the downside is that, as countries take steps to publish legislation to make GHS guidelines legally binding, different versions of GHS end up as law in different places at different periods of time. The end result is a compliance system that is almost, but not quite, globally harmonized.

As businesses become increasingly international, and as their supply chains and product lines become more complex, it is important to understand which countries have adopted which version of GHS. Labeling, shipping, and even SDS requirements may have nuances that cause compliance issues for even the most robust compliance program. The figure below provides insights into the potential difficulties in keeping up with GHS if you are a multinational firm.

GHS Edition Used By Country

Verdantix analyses product chemical compliance issues within the broader realm of ‘product stewardship’, which merges product compliance (with regulations such as GHS, REACH, and RoHS) and voluntary product stewardship (such as product life cycle analysis and sustainable design). The results of the Global EH&S Leaders Survey 2015: Budgets And Priorities report reveal that 86% of EH&S leaders have product stewardship marked as a high priority or moderate priority for improvement in 2016, while 39% will actually take monetary action and increase budget allocation to product stewardship. This convincing response is due to increasingly complex regulatory evolution, increased stakeholder awareness, and the improved capabilities of chemical management software and services firms to help manage chemical compliance in an integrated fashion.

*The EU countries are drafting legislation to implement the 5th revision of GHS.