GHS Compliance

GHS Compliance

Is Your Campus GHS Compliant?

The Globally Harmonized System of the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), created by the United Nations, was designed to replace the diverse hazard classification systems around the world with one universal standard, which would improve knowledge of the dangers associated with hazardous chemicals.

The United States adopted the GHS in 2012 and OSHA’s adoption is a revision of their Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the GHS.

GHS-compliance mandates are in full effect for higher education institutions. All organizations with chemicals must be compliant with the HCS 2012 Chemical Classification Guidelines. 

What You Need To Know

‘Hazard Communication’ was the second most cited OSHA violation in 2017 – it’s crucial that your campus administration fully understands and implements these policies for handling and storing chemicals on campus to avoid federal fines. 

For more information, please check out OSHA’s resources here

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)

The GHS uses Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) instead of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) – if your campus has not already begun this process, it should carefully begin capturing SDSs and populating them into a library. Any employee that handles chemicals on campus should have immediate access to this library.  

SDSs follow a standardized format which provides important chemical and safety information. Any purchased chemical should have a SDS provided by the manufacturer.  

Typically, a chemical SDS will provide essential information that outlines the dangers involved in handling, transporting, consuming, combining, storing, and disposing the chemical.

Most importantly, the sheet will provide vital first aid information to first responders and physicians, along with emergency contact numbers.

Chemical Labels

Each chemical will have to follow a different labeling format than before. From this point forward, each chemical  must have the appropriate pictograms displayed on it. Chemical labels will have six standardized elements that include specific language depending upon chemical classification. 

Pictograms are small illustrations, specific to a hazard, enclosed in a red-bordered diamond.

GHS label warning signs

Employee Training

As you begin to prioritize complying with the new OSHA guidelines, it’s important to establish an employee training program on GHS guidelines. Employees are often the first line of defense in handling and storing chemicals – if a situation occurs where a chemical is mishandled, their immediate actions are crucial.

Institutions need to train employees on any newly discovered hazards listed on safety data sheets and/or labels. This training will make them aware of additional dangers and procedures to follow if contact with the chemical is made. Also, employees should have a solid understanding of the new GHS pictograms and be able to explain what each mean.

Remember as you begin to adopt these new guidelines that you don’t forget to train employees on both formats of chemical classification – MSDSs and SDSs. There will be a mix of both formats in your library as you begin populating it with SDSs – it’s essential employees know how to utilize both in case of an emergency. 

How the SafeColleges System Can Help


The SafeColleges SDS & Chemical Management System provides your administration with an easily-accessible, GHS compliant solution for storage and organization of your campus’s safety data sheets. Campus staff can quickly access or input data into our web-enabled system from any device, anywhere on campus. SDSs can be reached in a moment’s notice in case of an emergency. 

SafeColleges Training

The SafeColleges Training System includes a Safety Data Sheets course that provides staff with an understanding of SDSs as they relate to hazardous chemicals, the knowledge needed to use the information found in SDSs to protect yourself and others on campus, and how GHS requirements will affects SDSs. 

For more information on the SafeColleges Online SDS & Chemical Management System or the SafeColleges Online Training System, please contact us at 1.800.434.0154 or Free trials are available.