Skip to main content

GHS implementation


In order to monitor the status of implementation of the GHS, the secretariat collects information publicly available from various sources in relation with the implementation of the GHS. The information is made available on this page in good faith and derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of publication. These include reports from members of the GHS Sub-Committee or NGOs, reports submitted to or issued by other United Nations organs, programs or specialized agencies (UNECE, UNITAR, IMO, ICAO, UNEP, WHO, ILO) or other intergovernmental organizations (European Commission, APEC) and non-governmental organizations, as well as reports on various workshops, seminars, conferences and other events organized by third-parties on GHS-related issues. Given that implementation of the GHS is a dynamic process, this information will be reviewed and completed based on any new information made available.

Several international organizations as well as United Nations programmes and specialized agencies concerned with chemical safety in the field of transport or the environment, occupational health and safety, pesticide management and prevention and treatment of poisoning, continue to implement the GHS by developing, amending or revising their relevant international instruments. Detailed information about the progress of the work in the different areas is given in this page, under "Implementation through international legal instruments, recommendations, codes and guidelines".

Governments and any other stakeholders, are invited to submit information on progress in GHS implementation on their countries or areas of work using the dedicated contact form. Of particular interest is information regarding references to legal instruments, codes or standards which have been adopted or amended to reflect the provisions of the GHS (including: date of application, transitional periods, publication details, internet address, details of the administrations responsible for their implementation, etc).

Disclaimer: This page contains links and references to third-party web sites. The linked third-part websites are not under the control of the United Nations. The United Nations is not responsible for the content of any linked site or any link contained in a linked site. The secretariat provides these links only as a convenience, and the inclusion of a link or reference does not imply the endorsement of the linked site by the United Nations. The designations employed and the presentation of material in this website do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the secretariat concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Implementation through international legal instruments, recommendations, codes and guidelines

Transport of Dangerous Goods

For the transport of dangerous goods, the GHS is implemented through the "UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. Model Regulations" and the following transport legal international instruments addressing the different modes of transport. All of them are revised every two years and take account of the provisions of the Model Regulations (which are also updated every two years).

For maritime transport (IMO): the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code)

The IMDG Code is of mandatory application for 166 countries parties to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

For air transport (ICAO): ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO TI)

The ICAO TIs are of mandatory application for the 193 countries parties to the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

For land (road, rail and inland waterways transport):

  • By road: Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR)
    The annexed regulations to the agreement are mandatory for the 52 Contracting Parties to the Agreement. They are also of mandatory application for domestic traffic in EU and EEA countries through European Directive 2008/68/EC (see note) and in the Russian Federation (Ordinance No.272 of 15 April 2011).
  • By rail: Regulations concerning the International Transport of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID)
    The Regulations are of mandatory application to the 45 Contracting States as well as for domestic traffic in EU and EEA countries through European Directive 2008/68/EC (see note).
  • By inland waterways: European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Waterways (ADN)
    The Agreement has 18 Contracting Parties. The Annexed Regulations are mandatory for all contracting parties as ell as for domestic traffic in EU and EEA countries through European Directive 2008/68/EC, only for countries which are not linked by inland waterway to other EU countries (see note).

Note: RID/ADR/ADN are revised every two years and take account of the provisions of the UN Model Regulations, which are also revised every two years. 
Directive 2008/68/EC applies to the transport of dangerous goods by road, by rail or by inland waterways within or between EU Member States. It makes direct reference to the relevant legal instruments implementing the provisions of the UN Model Regulations on the transport of Dangerous Goods by road, rail and inland waterways (i.e.: ADR, ADN and RID) and in addition to make ADR and RID applicable to road/rail transport of dangerous goods in the EU, requires those States with inland waterways linked, by inland waterways, to waterways of other member States to apply the regulations annexed to ADN whether or not they are Parties to the ADN. The Directive entered into force on 20 October 2008. Following its adoption, directives 94/55/EC, 96/49/EC, 96/35/EC, 2000/18/EC and Commission Decisions 2005/263/EC and 2005/180/EC were repealed.

Pesticide management

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) promotes the implementation of the GHS in the field of pesticides. Several of its guidelines have been revised and include recommendations and guidance for classification and labelling of pesticides in accordance with GHS criteria: These include:

  • FAO Guidelines for the Registration of Pesticides (2010)
  • FAO Guidelines on Good Labelling Practice for Pesticides (2015)
  • FAO Guidelines on Highly Hazardous Pesticides (2016)

All FAO available guidelines for the implementation of the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide management are available at the FAO website.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also updated the WHO Recommended Classification of pesticides by hazard to take account of the GHS. Its latest edition (2009) uses revised classification criteria which take account of the GHS categories for acute oral and dermal toxicity. The GHS acute oral toxicity category for each pesticide is also now presented in the publication.

Occupational safety and health

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has several conventions, recommendations, codes of practice, guidance and tools addressing protection of workers from the exposure to hazardous substances. The report "ILO Instruments on Chemical Safety - Analysis and synergies with other international frameworks on the sound management of chemicals" published in 1 January 2020 provides an overview of all major ILO instruments addressing chemical hazards for human health and safety as well as the environment. 

Environment: Characterisation of wastes

Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal

The Basel Convention addresses hazard identification of wastes in its Annex III, which contains a list of hazardous characteristics (H1 to H13) that are used to determine whether they are subject to control under the Convention. These include wastes that are explosive, flammable, poisonous, infections, corrosive, toxic, etc.

By decision BC-13/2, the Conference of Parties established an expert working group (EWG) on the review of annexes I, III and IV of the Convention. Annex I lists the categories of wastes to be controlled under the Convention, including both specific waste categories (Y1 to Y18) and wastes having specific constituents (Y19 to Y45). Annex III lists the hazardous characteristics (H1 to H13). The mandate of the group was extended and expanded by the Conference of the Parties in its decisions BC-14/13 and BC-14/16 with, among others, an additional mandate to consider whether any additional constituents or characteristics in relation to plastic waste should be added to annex I or III, respectively, to the Convention.

The purpose of the review of annexes I and III is to: (i) Improve/update the description of categories of wastes in Annex I and the list of hazardous characteristics in Annex III; (ii) Improve environmental controls by including any additional categories of wastes in Annex I and any additional hazardous characteristics in Annex III that occur in practice; and (iii) Clarify the descriptions in Annexes I and III to address conflicts or overlaps.

The expert working group met several times since its establishment. It focused the review of Annex III first on exchanging information on the various proposals put forward and on four general issues namely, the reference to UN class, the alignment with GHS, the alignment with the Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR), and the level of specificity of H-characteristics, as well as on the testing methods and the structure of Annex III. The EWG exchanged views on the benefits of retaining the UN class with respect to some hazardous characteristics and of possibly introducing the use of the GHS when relevant, for instance with respect to UN class 9. It also discussed: the value added of establishing thresholds to determine whether a specific waste category can be characterized as hazardous; testing methods; and the possibility of adding new hazardous characteristics, for instance “persistent organic pollutant”. 

The expert working group will convene initial online sessions of its fourth meeting from 5 to 9 October 2020 at what time it is expected to focus its deliberation on the review of Annex IV and the e-waste entries in Annexes VIII and IX to the Convention, bearing in mind that any proposal to amend those annexes are to be made available to Parties by 19 January 2021 for consideration by the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties. The expert working group is also expected to consider at that time how to progress its work on the review of Annexes I and III, taking into account among other things a thought starter prepared by Canada on the review of Annex III and comments received thereon. 

It is expected that proposals on the review of Annexes I and III will be considered by the thirteenth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group in 2022 and subsequently by the sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2023. Further information can be obtained from the Basel Convention secretariat.

Prevention of major industrial accidents

The UNECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents aims at preventing accidents involving hazardous activities (including the production, use, storage, handling or disposal of hazardous substances) that may have transboundary effects. Some examples of hazardous activities include the work done at fertilizer or chemical plants or at petroleum storage or extraction tailing facilities. Countries that have decided to accede to the Convention or have taken on the obligation to implement its provisions must first define the scope of application. They must identify those hazardous activities for which prevention and preparedness are required in respect of accidents with transboundary effects. 

Annex I to the Convention includes a list defining hazardous activities and is divided into two parts: part I contains categories of substances and mixtures, while part II lists named substances which, when present at an installation in quantities equal to or greater than those specified, indicate that a hazardous activity is carried out at the installation. The hazard categorisation for classification of substances and mixtures in part I is in accordance the GHS.

All information related to the Convention and its implementation (including guidance materials) is available at the Convention website.

Chemical's assessment in accordance with the GHS

Since the adoption of the GHS, a number of countries, international, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations have reviewed hazard characterization of chemicals in accordance with the GHS criteria, for their own purposes. This information is, in many cases, publicly available.  A non-exhaustive list of available resources is shown below. It should be borne in mind that while some of the GHS classifications available are linked to legal instruments of mandatory application, others are provided only as a tool to help with GHS implementation in a given country, region or sector but are not mandatory. Users should be aware of the applicability and legal status of these classifications. 

WHO chemicals publications
Information on GHS classification is now routinely included within published chemical evaluations from WHO, including Concise International Chemical Assessment Documents (CICADs) and Environmental Health Criteria (EHCs).

WHO/ILO International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSC)
WHO started to include GHS classifications in new and updated ICSCs in April 2006. A database compiling ICSCs was developed by WHO and ILO is available online. It provides direct access to more than 1700 cards in several languages. Where relevant, the classification criteria for the GHS have been incorporated in the decision process for determining the information which appears on each ICSC. The ICSCs have been identified as a mechanism for making GHS classifications of chemicals more widely available.

OECD tools and work on hazard assessment of chemicals
OECD assists countries in developing and harmonising methods for assessing risk to human health and the environment, including methodologies for hazard and exposure assessment. On 25 May 2018, the OECD Council adopted a "Decision-Recommendation on the Co-operative Investigation and Risk Reduction of Chemicals", by which it was decided among other things that "Adherents shall implement the GHS in order to further hazard communication in the supply chain." and recommended that "Adherents communicate and share classifications derived pursuant to the GHS with other Adherents.". 

OECD has developed or contributed to a number of tools to assist countries with hazard and exposure assessment and GHS implementation. This is the case for instance of the eChemPortal, an online portal containing data sources and information on chemicals, developed and made available by OECD in cooperation with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The eChemPortal provides exposure and use information on chemicals and direct links to collections of chemical hazard and risk information prepared for government chemical review programmes at national, regional and international levels. Classification results according to national/regional hazard classification schemes or to the GHS are also provided when available. 

Capacity building, tools and guidance for implementation

Guidance on implementation of GHS criteria

The GHS Sub-Committee has developed guidance on the application of GHS criteria. The guidance provides examples on the application of the criteria for several hazard classes and is regularly updated.

Additionally, sector-specific guidance has been developed by industry. This includes so far: “Guidance on the application of GHS criteria to petroleum substances” and “Guidance on the application of GHS criteria to ores and concentrated for marine transport”.

Capacity-building, training materials and resources

UNITAR and ILO are the GHS Sub-Committee’s focal points for GHS capacity building activities.

In 2001, both organizations initiated a Global GHS Capacity Building Programme (UNITAR/ILO Global GHS Capacity Building Programme), in response to growing requests from countries for capacity building to support GHS implementation. The UNITAR/ILO programme provides guidance documents, educational, awareness-raising, resource and training materials regarding the GHS.

UNITAR, ILO and OECD also launched a Global Partnership for capacity building to implement the GHS (UNITAR/ILO/OECD Global Partnership for Capacity Building to Implement the GHS) with the aim to strengthen capacities at all levels and sectors (particularly in developing countries).

Available training materials and resources include:

  • Guidance for the development of a National GHS implementation strategy
  • A companion guide to the Purple book
  • GHS e-learning course run twice a year.

The Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) developed an Internet-based Toolbox for Decision Making in Chemicals Management (IOMC Toolbox). The toolbox enables countries to identify the most appropriate and efficient actions and guidance for : a national management scheme for pesticides ; an occupational health and safety system ; a chemical accidents prevention, preparedness and response system for major hazards ; a pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTR) ; an industrial chemicals management system ;a classification and labelling system based on the GHS ; and a system to support health authorities which have a role in the public health management of chemicals.

Implementation by country/region

Argentina Australia Austria
Belgium Bolivia Brazil Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria
Cambodia Canada Chile China Colombia Cyprus Czech Republic
Democratic Republic of Congo Denmark
Ecuador Estonia
Finland France
Gambia Germany Greece Guatemala
Iceland Indonesia Ireland Italy Israel
Japan Kyrgyzstan
Lao People's Democratic Republic Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg
Madagascar Malaysia Malta Mauritius Mexico Myanmar
Netherlands New Zealand Nigeria Norway
Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Portugal
Republic of Korea Romania Russian Federation
Senegal Serbia Singapore Slovakia Slovenia South Africa Spain Sweden Switzerland
Thailand Turkey
United Kingdom United States of America Uruguay
Viet Nam

European Union and European Economic Area