GHS is neither Global nor Harmonized

Written on: December 2, 2013 by Mike Moffatt


A common joke is that the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is neither Global nor Harmonized. It is not harmonized due to the implementation differences in many countries. It is not global because it has yet to be implemented in various jurisdictions. The past few months have brought us closer to meet the global part of GHS, but further away from harmonization.

EU Releases 4th ATP of the EU CLP Regulation

The European Commission has issued its 4th Adaptation to Technical Progress (ATP) of its GHS-based Classification, Labeling & Packaging (CLP). The 4th ATP is a particularly important change as it aligns CLP with the 4th edition of the GHS Purple Book (Like CLP before this change, Hazcom 2012 is aligned with the 3rd edition of the Purple Book).

The regulations can be downloaded at:

The deadline for compliance is Dec. 1, 2014 for pure substances and June 1, 2015 for mixtures.

This is a very important change for aerosol companies for one reason—a new category has been created to deal with non-flammable aerosol products. If your company had aerosol products that did not fall under Category 1 or Category 2 Flammable Aerosols, they will now be considered a Category 3 Non-Flammable Aerosol. Your labels and SDSs will need to be updated to reflect this, as there are new associated hazard and precautionary statements for products falling under Category 3.

Fortunately, you will not need to add a pictogram on your labels for non-flammable aerosols. You will, however, need to add the new hazard statement H229, “Pressurized container: May burst if heated”. Furthermore, the following precautionary statements are required: P210: “Keep away from heat/sparks/open flames/hot surfaces—No smoking”, P251: “Pressurized container—Do not pierce or burn, even after use” and P410+P412 “Protect from sunlight. Do not expose to temperatures exceeding 50°C/122°F.”

There are a host of other changes, including additions and deletions of hazard and precautionary statements as well as new exemptions for small containers. A new GHS classification has been created for Chemically Unstable Gases.

This is not the last time CLP will be updated. The final version of the next (5th) ATP is expected to come into force Jan.1, 2015 and will update the classifications for 40+ substances, including nitrobenzene and vinyl acetate.

If you have European compliant labels or SDSs, there are a few things you should be doing now. The first is to see if any of your products are eligible for the small container exemptions, as they are very convenient. Second, make the necessary changes to your products that are either unstable gases or non-flammable aerosols. Finally, amend your SDSs and labels to be compliant with the new P-statement introduced in this regulation.

Canadian GHS Progress Marches On

Canada is still without a GHS-based replacement for its Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), but progress continues. A proposal was released to the generic public by Health Canada on June 29, 2013. There was a comment period that ended Sept. 15, 2013. The issues we presented to Health Canada were based on the need for at least a two-year transition period and further harmonization with U.S. Hazcom 2012 in areas such as disclosure of mutagenic ingredients.

The largest concern our colleagues and clients had was with the proposal’s requirement that exact concentration percentages be used on SDSs, except for cases of batch-to-batch variation.

A number of our clients have asked us if they should be preparing Canadian GHS based documents today. I would highly advocate caution and suggest waiting. The final rules will change from these, so any work you do now will likely need to be altered in the future.

We are now awaiting a final rule, which we expect to be released in the first six months of 2014. We will keep you informed on the progress of GHS implementation in Canada.  SPRAY