The Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) has been the subject of more than a decade of work; its aim is to provide a framework to bring together the various national and regional hazard communication systems which control the supply of hazardous chemicals in much the same way that the ‘Orange Book’ offers a global framework for the transport of dangerous goods. The purpose of GHS is to provide a single, globally harmonized system to address classification of chemicals, labels, and safety data sheets. The first edition of GHS was published in July 2003 as the ‘Purple Book’, it is revised evey December of even numbered years (and usually published in the following summer). Further details about the publication status, its ‘adoption’ throughout the world, and often access to electronic versions (when these are eventually made available), can be found on the UNECE website:
More information can also be obtained on the HSE GHS website at a special section for GHS related issues http://www.hse.gov.uk/ghs/index.htm. Note however that updating of the HSE website pages sometimes lags behind developments by several months. HSE is the lead on the development of the GHS and consults on GHS issues through its Standing Committee on Hazard Information and Packaging (SCHIP). Those do not get SCHIP communications via their Trade Association, and who wish to be sent such communications when issued should contact Desmond Waight (email Desmond@dangoods.co.uk) who is an ‘independent’ associate member of SCHIP asking to be placed on his “Emerging Classification” circulation. There is no charge.
The EU have passed legislation (the Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 (CLP)) that will over time harmonise the EU supply provisions with the GHS. See the section of this website for further information.
Transport implementation is via the UN Recommendations and Model Regulations (Orange Book) and by subsequent adoption in the various international modal provisions (ADR, RID, ADN, IMDG Code, ICAO TIs / IATA DGRs).