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Classification and identification of chemical products with the GHS System

Posted by Bertrand Duteil on 06/10/2016


Within the past years, one of the most important changes for companies dealing with chemical products or hazardous substances has been the introduction of the classification and identification of chemical products according to the GHS System. Suppliers and purchasing companies must comply and stay up-to-date with new legal requirements concerning work safety, packaging guidelines or environmental protection.

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Chemicals (or GHS) is a worldwide standard system designed by the United Nations. The new updated system for the manipulation of hazardous material has been first introduced in 2013 and is since updated every two years. Every existing regulations or monitoring laws have been one after the other replaced and unified with the new GHS system.

To ease your work, ecratum prepared for you an overview of the most important aspects and innovations introduced with the GHS. You can download here the PDF document for free.

Legal background

The system serves as recommendation made by the UN and is implemented and applied by each state. Within the EU, the regulation EG Nr. 1272/2008, also known as the CLP regulation, settles the concrete implementation of the GHS system.


  • The GHS serves as standard and should facilitate the international goods circulation and trading
  • The system should help ensure a higher work safety and better environmental protection
  • It unifies the identification (Safety Data Sheet included) but also of the evaluation criteria /Hazard classification)
  • The GHS introduces a new and easy system where none was pre-existing.

Effective date

Since 01.06.2015, all chemical products and mixes have to be classified and identified according to the newest version of the GHS.

Before the GHS introduction With the GHS
  • 7 hazard symbols
  • 9 hazard pictograms
  • 68 hazard notes (or risk statements)
  • 135 precautionary statements
    -> more details under “Hazard Statements”
  • 64 safety recommendations (or safety statements)
  • 71 hazard statements
    -> more details under “Hazard Statements”
  • 28 hazard classes


Current terminology

WARNING: for light hazard categories
DANGER: for heavy hazard categories

Hazard classes

The 28 hazard classes, graded in 5 different hazard categories, replace the preexisting 15 risk factors. The classes are divided into 3 different ranges:

Physical hazards

  1. Explosives
  2. Flammable gases
  3. Flammable aerosols
  4. Oxidising gases
  5. Gases under pressure
  6. Flammable liquids
  7. Flammable solids
  8. Self reactive substances
  9. Pyrophoric liquids
  10. Pyrophoric solids
  11. Self-heating substances
  12. Water reactive chemicals that could emit flammable gas
  13. Oxidising liquids
  14. Oxidising solids
  15. Organic peroxides
  16. Corrosive to metals

Health hazards

  1. Acute toxicity: oral, dermal, inhalation
  2. Skin corrosion / irritation
  3. Serious eye damage / irritation
  4. Sensitisation – respiratory / skin
  5. Germ cell mutagenicity
  6. Carcinogenicity
  7. Toxic to reproduction
  8. Specific target organ toxicity (single)
  9. Specific target organ toxicity (repeated)
  10. Aspiration hazard

Environmental Hazards

  1. Hazardous to the aquatic environment
  2. Hazardous to the ozone layer

Hazard Categories

Hazard statements

  • H2xx codes : Physical hazards
  • H3xx codes: Health hazards
  • H4xx codes: Environmental hazards

Precautionary statements

  • P1xx codes: General
  • P2xx codes: Prevention
  • P3xx codes: Response
  • P4xx codes: Storage
  • P5xx codes: Disposal

The following documents are concerned with the GHS updates

(Note: this list is not exhaustive and may not be complete)

More information about GHS (EN)

Does your company purchase hazard material or chemical products and need to collect safety data sheets and operating instructions from your suppliers?

With ecratum, you can not only automatically collect all your suppliers documents and certificates, but also automatically administrate and archive them. ecratum supports you with your legal documentation duties and helps you being audit-ready all year long.

Discover more about ecratum and register now for an online-demonstration.

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