Safety Data Sheets and the Globally Harmonised System (GHS)

Posted By: Trace One

sds-ghs-worldwideThe globally harmonised system (GHS) of classification and labelling of chemical products has been developed by the United Nations to globally standardise the classification and labelling of chemicals. More specifically, the text of the GHS Standard (known as "UN Purple Book") does the following:

  • Defines physical, health and environmental hazards of chemicals, while harmonising the classification criteria;
  • Standardises the content and format of chemical labels and safety data sheets.

The Purple Book is updated fairly frequently: its last edition is the 7th, published in 2017.

What happens when GHS is adopted

Since the GHS is a voluntary system, the UN Purple Book itself has no regulatory power by itself. When a country wishes to adopt the GHS criteria, they have to promulgate specific laws that specify the criteria and dispositions that are being adopted.

GHS in practice

Starting from 2003, when the first edition of the GHS had been published, many nation have decided to implement this UN standard in their regulations. The GHS uses a "building blocks" system, where countries can implement specific parts of the standard, while omitting others based on their needs and plans.


The "building blocks" approach means that different countries can implement different GHS class-categories in their regulations. The resulting regulation will be different from country to country, with possibly different results in the hazard classification of chemical products. The SDS and label will often be different too, having different elements, layouts and nation-specific information.

Our solution

The Trace One SDS Authoring suite makes worldwide GHS management easier, with intuitive processes for chemical hazard calculation and SDS generation, while being compliant with the specific regulations of different countries. There are multiple calculations available, alongside country-specific SDS templates and further personalisation and data packages to make the whole process faster and simpler.

To discover all of our solution (Trace One SDS Authoring Professional, Trace One SDS Authoring Corporate, Trace One Devex PLM, and HSM) contact our Customer Service at

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