New Global Classification System GHS | Clear Communication on Hazardous Chemicals
A standardized system of classifying and communicating about hazardous chemicals is essential in today's complex, global economy and society. This addresses the importance of sustainability at a product level; not only as an environmental and/or economy issue, but also in its essential social aspect… Think about the health of the employees working in factories with hazardous chemicals
April 2013 – The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals is a new worldwide initiative for the standardized classification of hazardous chemicals and a communication system for conveying information regarding their proper use and handling.
There are many systems for the classification and labeling of chemical products currently exist between and within countries. This means high costs for companies working with different systems, difficulties for governments to regulate and represents danger for workers handling the chemicals who may find a system unfamiliar or confusing. The goal of the GHS is to reduce costs, streamline regulatory procedures and increase safety through a universal set of rules for classifying hazards and use of the same format and content for labels and safety data sheets.
This new classification system provides clear and consistent communication with regards to the handling of hazardous chemicals. The GHS will require standardized information to appear on the labels of hazardous chemicals, consisting of three parts — a hazard statement, a word signal and a pictogram. The hazard statement describes the type of hazard, while the signal word communicates its potential severity. The pictogram is a non-text symbol also used to convey the type of hazard. The inclusion of the pictogram is beneficial because of its simplicity, eye-catching nature and ability to transcend language barriers. By combining multiple means of communication on one label, the GHS ensures that hazard information is conveyed quickly and effectively.
Detailed information about chemical safety is also provided under the GHS system, through Safety Data Sheets, which provide the details in an organised overview and manner.
The GHS streamlines communication domestically and internationally, in between governments, companies, chemical handlers and users, emergency responders and the public. In addition and logically, this also can boost the trade, reduce costs and improve efficiency of regulatory procedures.
It must be said that the GHS labelling system is not going to change positively anything by itself. Appropriated training is also necessary for employees to recognise and interpret the information provided in labels and data Sheets.
However, the possibilities are great. The GHS streamlines communication domestically and internationally, in between governments, companies, chemical handlers and users, emergency responders and the public.