AGlobally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals — or GHS — was developed under the auspices of the United Nations in order to do away with differences in existing international systems for the classification and labeling of chemicals and thus further enhance standards in occupational health and safety, environmental and consumer protection, and the transportation of hazardous goods.

he European Parliament and Council decided to implement GHS in Europe from 1 December 2010 for substances and from 1 June 2015 for mixtures. This has caused the labeling methods applicable in the EU to hazardous substances to be superseded. GHS will replace the old labeling as follows:
  • old: hazard symbols with their hazard designations
    new: hazard pictograms featuring a signal expression
  • old: R phrases new: hazard or H statements
  • old: S phrases new: precautionary or P statements
  • old: phrases for supplementary hazards new: EUH statements (special hazards).

All three types of hazard coding feature three-digit numbers. The letters stand for the type of warning, the H and P statements forming groups. The first digit of the number indicates the type of hazard (whether a physical, health or environmental hazard) and the second and third digits refer the specific hazard posed and safety measure to be implemented as applicable.

The graphic rendering of all of the old symbols has been modified: the old square symbols with their orange background have been replaced with a red diamond frame with a white background. The following symbols are new: “gas cylinder” for compressed substances, the “exclamation point” and “health hazard” symbol for hazards posed to one’s health, except for toxicity (poisonous) and corrosivity (irritant to eyes and skin). The X (symbol with Xn or Xi) will not be used in the future and will be replaced with the hazard pictograms “corrosivity”, “health hazard” or “exclamation point”.

Since GHS represents a different concept as compared to EU law in effect to date, integration in existing systems or a direct transfer is not possible.
We, Bernd Kraft GmbH, have revised the labels of substances, which were to be modified as of 1 December 2010 in compliance with GHS, e.g. concentrated acids and alkaline solutions, solvents and solid substances, and now render them as prescribed by law starting in the 2011 product catalogue and price list. The labels of all other products (mixtures) — for which there is as yet no sufficiently reliable physical property data available — will be adapted when the information and data basis has been sufficiently consolidated, which will be the case by June 2015.

The table below (german version) provides an overview of the new hazard pictograms: