Every two years, the United Nations’ GHS Purple Book receives an update. The Purple Book is the official guiding document for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). It provides framework for GHS adoption, defines the system for hazard classification, and includes guidance on labeling requirements.

The 8th revised edition of GHS (known as GHS Rev 8) was recently published in July 2019. In March, the Committee of Experts on the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) and GHS of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) approved amendments to the 7th revised edition of the UN GHS Purple Book. These changes within GHS rev 8 include:

Classification Criteria Changes for Aerosols

Under the new edition, aerosols will be determined in one of the following three categories of this hazard class. Aerosols are classified based on:

The new classification criteria is catalogued as:

Table 2.3.1: Criteria for aerosols
–table 2.3.1, classification and criteria for aerosols

New Hazard Category: Chemicals Under Pressure

A mixture or substance is either classified as an aerosol, or a chemical under pressure. Chemicals under pressure are identified as solids or liquids (such as powders or pastes) that are pressurized with a gas at 20°C and a pressure of 200kPa (gauge) or more. This pressurization occurs in pressure receptacles that are not aerosol dispensers, and are not classified in the same way as gases under pressure.

The criteria to be classified as chemicals under pressure are as follows:

Table 2.3.2: Criteria for chemicals under pressure

Chemicals under pressure receive corresponding pictograms, signal words, and hazard statements, as provided:

Table for label elements for chemicals under pressure
Table Label elements for chemicals under pressure

New Labeling Example for Sets or Kits

The most recent revision introduces a new example for labeling sets/kits. Set/kit labeling must include hazard statements, signal words, and GHS compliant pictograms.

In general, a kit or set will have inner containers that are smaller and removable. Each of these inner containers will hold different mixtures or substances that may or may not be hazardous. There may be situations when the supplier or manufacturer has determined that there is not enough space to label the containers in accordance with GHS standards, or it is impossible to print the necessary information so it is easily legible.

This can happen when:

  • The inner containers are very small
  • The outer label can’t be affixed due to the size and shape of the packaging
  • There is a large amount of hazard statements for the chemical
  • The information needs to be relayed in more than one language

With GHS Revision 8, examples are included which show solutions to these common set/kit labeling problems, such as determining the minimum information required to be displayed on either the inner or outer container.

New Precautionary Pictograms for “Keep out of Reach of Children”

(AISE) precautionary pictogram keep out of reach
AISE pictogram
JSDA precautionary pictogram
JSDA pictogram

These pictograms created by the International Association for Soap, Detergents, and Maintenance Products (AISE) and the Japan Securities Dealers Association (JSDA) correctly convey the meaning of precautionary statement P102: “Keep out of reach of children.” The pictograms can be used to relate information in multiple ways and are important for labeling chemical products that are provided for the public.


Other Hazards Not Resulting Classification: Dust Explosion         

An altered Annex 11 will be added to the Purple Book. This annex provides advice on the factors that may lead to a dust explosion hazard and on the identification of this hazard. It also addresses the necessity of risk assessment, communication, mitigation, and prevention.

Skin Corrosion/Irritation Classification 

The new revision provides detailed instructions on how to use in vitro/ex vivo test data to analyze whether a mixture or substance causes corrosion or irritation to the skin. These instructions include relevant classification criteria and methods of application.

Previous individual in vitro/ex vivo test methods addressed either skin corrosion or skin irritation, and did not address both.

The application of GHS improves workplace safety and prevents miscommunication. In order to avoid penalties or fines from OSHA, your facility must adhere to GHS requirements. Take a look at the changes incorporated into the newest edition of the Purple Book and make sure your workplace is meeting the most recently established standards.

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