Technical Articles

Does OSHA use GHS?


In the field of occupational safety and health, various regulations and standards are implemented to ensure that workplaces prioritize workers' safety. Two prominent systems are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). This article aims to explore the relationship between OSHA and GHS, examining whether OSHA utilizes the GHS framework in its operations.

Understanding OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a regulatory body operating under the U.S. Department of Labor. The agency's primary purpose is to enforce occupational safety and health standards across various industries in the country. OSHA works towards reducing workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities by ensuring employers follow established regulations.

Exploring GHS

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, commonly known as GHS, is an internationally recognized framework for classifying and communicating chemical hazards. Developed by the United Nations, GHS endeavors to standardize hazard communication worldwide to enhance safety in handling hazardous substances.

GHS provides criteria for classifying chemicals based on their physical, health, and environmental hazards. It also defines standardized label elements, such as pictograms, signal words, and hazard statements, to effectively convey risks associated with different chemicals.

The Relationship between OSHA and GHS

Although OSHA operates independently in enforcing safety and health standards in the United States, it has incorporated elements of the GHS framework into its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). The HCS aligns with GHS guidelines to improve the effectiveness of chemical hazard communication in workplaces.

One notable aspect is the adoption of GHS hazard pictograms. These visual symbols, placed on product labels and safety data sheets, help employees quickly identify potential hazards associated with various chemicals. OSHA requires employers to provide training to workers regarding the meanings and significance of these pictograms.

Additionally, OSHA has aligned its hazard classification criteria with GHS standards. This allows for consistent classification of hazardous materials and ensures that employers meet the international principles of hazard communication when operating globally.


While OSHA operates independently as a regulatory body in the United States, it acknowledges the importance of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) in enhancing workplace safety. By aligning certain aspects of its Hazard Communication Standard with GHS guidelines, OSHA demonstrates its commitment to promoting effective chemical hazard communication and ensuring the well-being of workers.

The use of GHS hazard pictograms and the adoption of standardized hazard classification criteria showcase the convergence between OSHA's regulations and those of the global community. This harmonization not only enhances worker safety but also facilitates international trade by providing consistent hazard communication practices across different countries.



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