Background on the GHS
Because different countries developed their own laws regulating what chemicals are covered, the definitions of hazards, and formats for safety data sheets, inconsistencies arose when chemical products are sold throughout the world. The GHS was created primarily to standardize the way hazardous chemicals are categorized based on their health, physical, and environmental effects. Additionally, this information must be communicated on updated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and labels.
Comparing Safety Data
The current OSHA HCS does not specify a given format for chemical hazard data provided that information for general hazard classes (e.g. health and physical hazards) is conveyed. This “performance-oriented” method of compliance opens the data up to various interpretations and may lead to inconsistent hazard determinations. The GHS clarifies this approach by adding specific health hazard classes such as skin corrosion, eye damage, and reproductive toxicity along with detailed criteria for classifying the hazards.