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GHS Hazard Statement List

Last updated: September 2, 2018

What Does GHS Hazard Statement List Mean?

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) Hazard Statement List is a list of standardized phrases that are used to characterize the hazards associated with chemical substances and mixtures. GHS statements, which are managed by the United Nations, are written in such a manner as to be clear, brief, and easily translatable into multiple languages.

The use of GHS phrases forms a core component of the hazard communication standards mandated by OSHA and occupational safety agencies in other jurisdictions. GHS hazard statements are complemented by GHS precautionary statements, a standardized list of phrases that provide simple advice about how to safely handle the substance they are applied to. Within the GHS system, each hazard statement is permanently associated with one or more precautionary statement.

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Safeopedia Explains GHS Hazard Statement List

Compliance and Uniformity

The GHS Hazard Statement List allows employees to meet their obligation to disclose the nature of all toxic substances in the workplace to employees by identifying chemicals according to a standardized descriptor.

GHS statements are a key facet of the hazard communication standards put forth by every country that uses the GHS system, and must be present on chemical hazard labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

In some jurisdictions (e.g. the EU, Australia) the GHS list contains additional jurisdictional-specific hazard statements designed to work within the existing GHS framework.

Because hazard statements are standardized within the overall GHS system, they can be used without any additional information to determine a chemical’s correct GHS hazard class, category, pictogram label, and precautionary statements.

Category Sublists

Each GHS statement belongs to one of three sublists that describes a different category of hazard:

  • Physical hazards
  • Health hazards
  • Environmental hazards

H Codes

Phrases that belong to the list can be identified by their unique “H Code,” which is a four-digit statement identifier that begins with the letter H (for “Hazard”) followed by three numbers:

  • The first number identifies the category of the hazard:
    • Physical hazards belong to the H2XX sublist (e.g. H200 – Unstable Explosives)
    • Health hazards belong to the H3XXX sublist (e.g. H300 – Fatal if Swallowed)
    • Environmental hazards belong to the H4XX sublist (e.g. H400 – Very Toxic to Aquatic Life)
  • The second number describes the type of hazard that the phrase pertains to
  • The third number indicates the severity of the hazard, with a lower number indicating greater severity (phrase H310, for instance, is "Fatal in contact with skin," while phrase H315 is "Causes skin irritation")

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