Translation Technology

GHS Translation and Governmental Compliance

When it comes to translating hazard information for chemicals bound for global markets, expertise is key.

Dominic Dithurbide's avatar
Dominic Dithurbide

February 14, 2017


Manufacturers of all kinds—particularly chemical manufacturers—know that governmental compliance is a mission-critical component of their domestic business. Failure to adhere to local laws in such a highly-regulated industry can lead to fines and penalties … or even worse, jeopardize the entire fate of the business.

The same is absolutely true for these companies as they expand into international markets. Here, things become more complex. Serving global customers online in their preferred language is imperative.

But the need to translate content extends well beyond a chemical manufacturer’s website. Localizing supporting documentation and instructions is also important, for instance. But a commonly overlooked need is GHS translation—crafting localized safety information for these global markets.

Why It’s Important

GHS, short for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, is a system of classifying chemicals by the dangers they might pose to people. It illustrates this information through text labels, pictograms and Safety Data Sheets. The system was adopted by the United Nations in 2002 to help ensure the safe use, transport and disposal of chemicals. By clearly labeling these products with “harmonized” information recognizable around the world, buyers and workers can have a greater understanding of their dangers, and how to react in the case of a chemical exposure. This consistency of rules and regulations also helps with global trade.

While the chemical manufacturing industry has rallied around GHS standardization, one key aspect remains inconsistent. This content must be translated into appropriate languages for overseas markets. Further, it must be fully compliant with the rules and regulations of individual countries. These regulations often vary from country to country.

This can pose significant challenges for chemical manufacturers. GHS translation can be a major project, which isn’t likely in their realm of expertise. Linguistic fluency isn’t the only important aspect of this project; fluency in national and regional regulations and requirements is critical, too.

Fluency in national and regional regulations and requirements is critical.

Further, different countries—even if they share a common language—may require different terminology to describe hazards, precautionary statements, signal words, and health and safety information. This requires local bureaucratic footwork, local language fluency, translation consistency, quality assurance, and much more.

These market-specific nuances can be subtle, but remain very important to translate properly. Variances are a good example. The translation for the statement “serious eye damage” might be appropriate in one country, while “severe eye damage” may be the required verbiage for another.

GHS Translation, Demystified

If your chemical company is expanding into global markets, it must comply with GHS standards (or other local regulations, if the country has not yet adopted GHS), and it must do so in the country’s preferred languages. That’s a big deal. Mistranslations can expose your organization to great risk.

But with a globalization platform like MotionPoint’s, your company won’t be outclassed by the task. Our powerful and flexible platform accommodates not only website translation, but GHS translation, too. We’ll discover the preferred terminology in whatever market you’re expanding to, adapt to any local preferences as needed, and ensure your GHS (and other) material is translated to the highest standards.

Indeed, MotionPoint has experience translating far more government compliance-related material than GHS. We excel at Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) content, and have translation expertise in every technical field: engineering, chemistry, healthcare, you name it.

Would you like to learn more about how MotionPoint can help your organization expand into global markets, and seamlessly serve and educate new customers with perfectly translated GHS content? Contact us. We love to talk shop.

Last updated on February 14, 2017
Dominic Dithurbide's avatar

About Dominic Dithurbide

Dominic Dithurbide is a creative, goal-driven marketing leader that’s dedicated his career to the translation industry. Dominic brings proficiency in global marketing, demand generation, and go-to-market strategies to MotionPoint’s marketing team.

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