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Mexico's GHS Implementation Officially Comes Into Force

October 9, 2018

by Darren MorleyMexican Flag

The Mexican official standard NOM-018-STPS-2015, The Harmonized Identification and Hazard Communication and Risk System of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals, has officially come into force. The legislation – which repeals the official standard NOM-018-STPS-2000 – took effect on 9th October 2018 for substances and mixtures.


Since the 2011 publication of the voluntary GHS standard NMX-R-019-SCFI-2011, the 2011 authorisation of an alternate GHS Safety Data Sheet (SDS), as well as the 2014 authorisation of an alternate GHS chemical identification and classification under NOM-018-STPS-2003, the international chemical industry had been waiting for the promulgation of a mandatory workplace GHS standard in Mexico.

This was confirmed on 9th October 2015 when Mexico’s Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (STPS) published NOM-018-STPS-2015, granting a three-year transition period for the chemical industry to classify and label chemicals.

The mandatory standard is an adaptation of the 5th Revision of the GHS “Purple Book”, and requires that chemical labels must include physical and health hazards. However, the STPS confirmed that for interpretation of this standard, the chemical industry may use the voluntary standard NMX-R-019-SCFI-2011, and that the environmental hazards are not mandatory in the label.

What are the implications of Mexico’s GHS adoption?

With Mexico’s GHS implementation now mandatory for products placed on the market in workplaces in Mexico, companies must ensure that their SDSs are in compliance with the new requirements.

This means that companies can no longer use a single document to meet all of their North American SDS needs, and that a Safety Data Sheet used for the U.S. and Canada will no longer be compliant for Mexico.

How does Mexico GHS differ from the U.S. and Canada?

The main differences between U.S. / Canada and Mexico are listed below:

1. NOM-018-STP-2015 adopted GHS Revision 5, whereas the U.S. adopted GHS Revision 3. Although Canada also adopted GHS Revision 5, its adoption included all of the important differences between GHS Revision 3 and Revision 5 to ensure harmonisation with the U.S.

2. The precautionary statements for the U.S. are specified as needing to follow Appendix C of OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.1200. While the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) – Canada’s GHS regulation – specifies Revision 5 precautionary statements, Health Canada has allowed U.S. precautionary statements to be used without enforcement in order to permit harmonization between the U.S. and Canada. Health Canada has acknowledged that the U.S. precautionary statements, while slightly different, have the same meaning. NOM-018-2015 uses GHS Revision 5 precautionary statements and has made no official statement as to the acceptance of U.S. precautionary statements which don’t exactly follow Revision 5.

3. Mexico requires codification of GHS hazard and precautionary statements on SDSs and labels. By contrast, the U.S. does not make reference to any codification in 29 CFR 1910.1200, and even if Mexico accepted U.S. statements, codification is not really available to include on the SDS and label.

4. Canada and the U.S. have adopted the hazard classifications (listed below) that are not defined in the GHS Purple Book. Mexico has not adopted these classifications, and while inclusion of these hazards would not necessarily be wrong, inclusion of pictograms required by Canada and/or the U.S. would cause significant confusion on a Mexican SDS. These hazard classifications are as follows:

  • Pyrophoric Gases (Not adopted in Rev 5)
  • Combustible Dusts
  • Simple Asphyxiants
  • Hazards Not Otherwise Classified (HNOC)
  • Physical Hazards Not Otherwise Classified (PHNOC)
  • Health Hazards Not Otherwise Classified (HHNOC)

5. There are critical differences between simple classification thresholds for Mexico compared to the U.S. and Canada. These differences are listed below:

Health Hazard Class Ingredient Threshold (%) for Mexico Ingredient Threshold (%) for U.S. and Canada
Skin Sensitization Category 1 ≥ 1.0 0.1%
Respiratory Sensitization 1 (liquid or solid) ≥ 1.0 ≥ 0.1%
Respiratory Sensitization 1 (gas threshold) ≥0.2 ≥0.1%
Reproductive Toxicity  Category 1 ≥ 0.1 or ≥0.3*  ≥ 0.1%
Reproductive Toxicity  Category 2 ≥ 0.1 or ≥3.0+  ≥ 0.1%
Reproductive Toxicity  Lactation ≥ 0.1 or ≥0.3.* ≥ 0.1%


*For Mexico, classification is required on the SDS at 0.1% and above, but if the ingredient is contained between 0.1% and 0.3%, a label warning is optional. A label warning is required above 0.3%. For the U.S. and Canada, classification is required at > 0.1% as well as SDS and label warnings.

+For Mexico, classification is required on the SDS at 0.1% and above, but if the ingredient is contained between 0.1% and 3%, a label warning is optional. A label warning is required above 3%. For the U.S. and Canada, classification is required at > 0.1% as well as SDS and label warnings.

Next Steps

Now that NOM-018-STPS-2015 has officially come into force, you must ensure that your Mexican SDSs are compliant with the mandatory standard. If you would like to guarantee peace of mind by ensuring that your SDSs are in compliance with the new requirements, you can talk to one of our global Regulatory Experts here.

For more information about Mexico’s GHS Implementation you can watch our recent webinar from UL Senior Regulatory Specialist Edgar Rodriguez Sierra, available in both English and Spanish.

UL’s global Regulatory Assurance Team contains more than 50 regulatory analysts worldwide, serving customers in six continents, with multi-lingual support in more than 30 languages. Our team can help you navigate the complex, ever changing regulatory landscape to understand and execute your compliance obligations. To ensure that you are meeting your hazard communication requirements with confidence, talk to one of our experts here.

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Useful Information

[Webinar] Top 5 Things You Need To Know About Mexico GHS Implementation (English)

[Webinar] Los 5 Puntos más Importantes que Debes Saber Sobre la Implementación de GHS en México (Spanish)

Mexico Regulatory Updates – October 2015


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