The globally harmonised system (GHS) was developed decades ago to provide the chemical industry with an international standard of labelling and classification for all chemicals in use. This standardised system negated the need for local governments to classify and relabel chemicals in line with varying local standards, a process that was previously incredibly time-consuming, expensive, and risky.
The globally harmonised system (GHS) was developed to provide the chemical industry with an international standard of labelling and classification for all chemicals in use
In answer to this widespread need, the United Nations acknowledged and understood the problem, and set about facilitating the creation of GHS, an implementation they continue to manage today. The managing body works with companies in the chemical industry and across countries around the world to design and implement the most effective standard for the classification and labelling of hazardous chemicals. This unified classification system has ensured that chemical users worldwide will understand and follow the standard set of rules for chemical labelling and safety data sheets (SDS, formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)).
We know that industries around the world use a wide range of chemicals to produce their products. All of these chemicals have different properties, some of which can make them hazardous if not stored, shipped, and used correctly. The UN revisions play a crucial role in simplifying the transfer, storage, and end-use processes by allowing both parties to adhere to a standard international set of rules and regulations when sending and receiving chemicals. Here are some other benefits of adhering to the latest UN GHS revisions:
Global Consistency: GHS Revisions ensure that chemical hazards are classified and communicated in a consistent manner across all countries. This consistency helps with international trade and transfer within the global chemical industry.
Emergency Response: In the event of chemical accidents or spills, GHS-compliant SDSs that enable emergency responders to take appropriate actions quickly and effectively. SDSs help in preventing or mitigating hazardous chemical incidents.
Safety: GHS provides standardised hazard classification criteria, labelling elements, and safety data sheet (SDS) formats. This information helps workers, emergency responders, and the general public understand the hazards associated with chemicals, promoting safer handling, storage, and transportation.
Protecting Human Health: Adhering to GHS revisions helps protect the health and well-being of workers who handle chemicals, ensuring they have access to the latest information about the potential risks and safe practices for each chemical they encounter.
Regulatory Compliance: Many countries have adopted GHS as part of their national regulations. Adhering to GHS revisions helps businesses comply with these regulations and avoid legal and regulatory issues.
Increased Consumer Awareness: GHS-compliant labels on consumer products containing hazardous chemicals inform consumers about potential risks, enabling them to make informed choices and take appropriate precautions.
International Trade: Compliance with GHS makes it easier for chemicals to be traded internationally because importers and exporters can rely on standardised hazard information and labelling. This facilitates trade while ensuring safety.
In a nutshell, adhering to GHS revisions is essential for promoting safety, protecting human health and the environment, facilitating international trade, and ensuring regulatory compliance in the handling and communication of chemical hazards. It is a globally recognised system that enhances the understanding and management of chemical risks.
If you want to know more about the environmental and health effects of chemicals, or how to minimise risk while working with chemicals, we’re here to help. We have tools to help you with mandatory reporting, as well as generating SDS and Risk Assessments. We also have a library of webinars covering global safety regulations, software training, accredited courses, and labelling requirements. For more information, contact us today!