GHS Answer Center

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Welcome to the GHS Answer Center, brought to you by MSDSonline. If this is your first experience with the GHS, you probably have a lot of questions:

  • What is it?
  • What does it mean to me and my company?
  • How much time do I have to get ready?

Whether you need a quick introduction to the GHS, or sophisticated answers to difficult questions, the GHS Answer Center is here to help. To get started, click on a link:

10 GHS Facts in 60 Seconds

GHS 101: An Overview

GHS 101: History of the GHS

GHS 101: Classification

GHS 101: Labels

GHS 101: Safety Data Sheets

GHS 101: U.S. Adoption (HazCom 2012)

GHS 101: Links to Useful GHS Info

GHS 101: GHS Definitions

5 Great Questions on GHS

GHS Pictograms

GHS Transport Pictograms

GHS Is Here
On March 26, 2012 OSHA published in the Federal Register a final rule revising the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with GHS. This was the culmination of decades worth of work by OSHA to help develop the Globally Harmonized System and make it a reality in the U.S.

Changes the HCS to align with GHS will affect over 43 million workers in over 5 million workplaces. Major changes to the HCS will center on:

Costs to businesses are expected to be greatest in these areas:

  • Re-classification of all chemicals
  • Re-authoring of all Safety Data Sheets
  • Training of workers on new label and SDS elements and familiarization with modified HCS system

OSHA expects the revised standard will prevent 43 fatalities and 585 injuries annually in the U.S., with a net annualized savings of over $500 million a year.

If you’ve been thinking about implementing an electronic MSDS Management solution and/or an on-demand Chemical Inventory Management solution, the time is now. With all of the changes coming, you’ll save time and money and more importantly stay compliant throughout.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg Auffrey November 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm

When do we expect the Global SDS system to be in function?




Dan Ciancio November 10, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I would expect we’ll see something in Q1 of 2012. I would not be surprised to see something as early as January/February.


Tom Robertson January 5, 2012 at 11:22 am

Why do you schedule the webinars for 11:00am eastern time that is 8:00am Pacific time and not have any later in the day
This makes attending these very difficult
Please add a couple of later times


Dan Ciancio January 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Tom – Thanks for the feedback. Based on your request, we’ve added a couple of West Coast friendly times. Please visit check out our GHS Webinar page for details.


David Watkins March 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm

What about manufacturers’ labels on chemical containers found in academic teaching and research labs? They frequently have product that has been on their shelves for years. Will those require new GHS labels be affixed in order to be in compliance with the new system or would they be grandfathered?


Dan Ciancio March 29, 2012 at 11:08 am

Hi David,

Thanks for the question. We actually posed a similar question to OSHA director Dr. David Michaels during the agency’s teleconference announcing the adoption of GHS. Dr. Michaels said employers with older chemicals in their inventory where the manufacturers is no longer in business or where they’ve stopped receiving shipments from the supplier are not obligated to update their labels or SDSs for those products.

Compliance on labels and SDSs start with the manufacturer and distributor…they must classify their hazardous chemicals and produce the GHS formatted labels and SDSs and send them downstream. Their obligation is to send it down stream with either the first shipment to customer or the first shipment to customer after a change is made. They are not required to send information to past customers independent of a shipment. Since OSHA does not expect you to start the compliance ball rolling, if you have older chemicals, they would be grandfathered in.

Please keep in mind that this is a different matter than when chemicals are received without an SDS. If you receive a new shipment without an SDS, OSHA does expect you to make a good faith effort to secure the SDS before the product is used.

Hope that helps.


Donnie Pendergrass November 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

As I get the new GHS(SDS) sheets, do I need to keep the old MSDS sheets?


Dan Ciancio November 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm


Not necessarily. There is nothing in the Hazard Communication Standard that requires you to do so. However, there is another OSHA Standard, the Access to medical records standard that requires employers to keep information about a chemical for 30 years beyond its end use date. A way of satisfying the requirements of this standard is to keep the MSDS. However, you could alternately choose instead to keep a record of the chemical name, where and when it was used. Many folks chose to keep the MSDS. There are other reasons keeping the MSDS could be a good idea. If an employee were to come back in a few years time and say I have a health issue because I was exposed to this chemical and you didn’t let me know. In that case, being able to produce the safety data sheet in use during that time could be advantageous. If you are managing your MSDSs electronically, then it becomes a bit easier to manage the archiving of outdated MSDSs.

This article provides more information on the topic:


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