September 2018

Mexican GHS deadline approaches

Do you sell hazardous products into Mexico? This is your friendly reminder that the new Mexican Official Standard, NOM-018-STPS-2015, Harmonized System for the Identification & Communication of Hazards &Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace (Sistema armonizado para la identificación y comunicación de peligros y riesgos por sustancias químicas peligrosas en los centros de trabajo) becomes enforceable and mandatory in October 2018. In addition to implementing the 5th revised edition of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (5th Rev. GHS) in Mexico, NOM-018-STPS-2015 establishes new requirements for chemical hazard communication in the Mexican workplace. Once the new standard NOM-018-STPS-2015 comes into force, the current standards, NOM-018-STPS-2000 and NOM-018-STPS-2014, will be repealed.

mexico transport

NOM-018-STPS-2015 implements all available building blocks of the 5th Rev. GHS. Since the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) HCS 2012 and the Canadian Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 2015 did not adopt all GHS building blocks, there are some prominent differences between Mexican GHS requirements and those in the U.S. and Canada. Some hazard classes that are optional in the U.S. and Canada, such as ecological toxicity hazards, must be disclosed under Mexican GHS. Additional hazard categories/levels that must also be considered for Mexican compliance include Acute Toxicity 5 and Skin Irritation 3.

Mexico’s adoption of the 5th Rev. GHS means that classification of aerosols differs from the U.S. and Canada. According to Mexican GHS, aerosols fall into one of three categories/levels: Flammable Aerosols 1 and 2 and Non-Flammable Aerosols 3. Whereas, to date, there is no Aerosol 3 classification in the U.S. and Canada, only the gases-under-pressure categories apply to non-flammable aerosol products. Mexican GHS regulations do not expressly forbid applying the gases-under-pressure classification alongside the aerosol classification. Therefore, this difference doesn’t necessarily prevent the combination of U.S., Canada and Mexico safety data sheets (SDS).

The new Mexican GHS standard requires a 16-section Spanish language SDS for hazardous products. Some specific requirements outlined in the standard include an in-country telephone number for emergency services and specific statements, abbreviations and acronyms to be displayed in section 16. NOM-018-STPS-2015 has not adopted any list of harmonized substance classifications. This means that the chemical data used to classify products for other jurisdictions may also be used for Mexican classification.

aquatic toxicity pictogram

In theory, it may be possible to combine your Mexican SDS with your current OSHA/WHMIS GHS documents. However, we don’t typically recommend proceeding in this way due to the differences in classification requirements. Mexico has not opted to include any of the non-GHS hazard classifications that have been adopted by the U.S. and Canada, such as combustible dust or simple asphyxiant. Also, Mexico has implemented all 5th Rev. GHS building blocks. Therefore, to achieve compliance throughout North America, over-classification may become an issue. For example, label elements that are optional in the U.S. and Canada, such as the aquatic toxicity pictogram, can make a product appear more hazardous compared to competitors that may not have included these classifications on their labels and SDS.

NOM-018-STPS-2015 sets minimum pictogram sizes, ranging from 3.1 to 37.5 centimeters (1.22″–14.57″), depending on the distance of the observer from the label or sign. Additionally, the standard includes employee training requirements. Workers must undergo training at least once per year, and additionally each time a new hazardous product is introduced, or when a SDS and label are updated.

Proposed standard for Mexican cleaning products

In March of 2018, Mexico’s Secretariat of Health (Secretaría de Salud) released a proposed standard on the labeling and packaging of household cleaning products, PROY-NOM-189-SSA1/SCFI-2016. The objective of the proposed standard is to establish labeling requirements for household cleaning products to enhance consumer knowledge and prevent human health risks. Types of products covered under the standard will include those intended for cleaning objects, surfaces and buildings as well as those products meant to release fragrances into the air.


The standard sets out labeling and packaging requirements for products that pose hazards to the consumer. Products that present a health risk due to toxicity, corrosivity or flammability must have applicable precautionary statements, pictograms and child-resistant packaging. Hazardous ingredients that elicit precautionary warnings must be indicated on the label by the common chemical or technical name. Other ingredients may be disclosed as generic names or by the name of the chemical family, such as phosphates, non-ionic surfactants or silicates. The proposed regulation would repeal and replace the current Official Mexican Standard NOM-189-SSA1/SCFI-2002 (labeling and packaging for household cleaning products).

Other Mexican Health & Safety Standards to watch for

Keep an eye out for final versions of these other, new Mexican Health & Safety Standards, which are expected to be published over the next few months:

PROY-NOM-006-STPS-2017: Storage and handling of materials through the use of machinery – Occupational safety conditions.

  • Project of NOM-017-STPS-2017: Personal Protective Equipment—Selection, use and handling in the workplace.
  • PROY-NOM-005-STPS-2017: Handling of hazardous chemical substances or their mixtures in the workplace—Conditions and health and safety procedures.
  • PROY-NOM-035-STPS-2016: Psychosocial risk factors—Identification and prevention.
  • PROY-NOM-036-1-STPS-2017: Occupational ergonomic risk factors—Identification, analysis, prevention and control. Part 1—Manual handling of loads.

In addition to these, on June 25, 2018, major reforms were published to the Customs Law and the Fiscal Code of the Federation. The objective of these reforms is to make logistics more effective, and to modernize the legal framework that regulates import and export, taking advantage of technological advances. By staying up-to-date on key legislative changes, one can avoid overlooking obligations that might result in delays or unexpected costs. This will give a company a competitive edge when doing business abroad. Nexreg will be sure to keep readers informed as we hear about other new developments in Mexico and around the world. SPRAY