The GHS

In Dangerous Goods

Dangerous Goods & The GHS

Over the years and especially since ships stopped being sailed by  their owner as captain, and with the advances in technology and international trade, the movement of dangerous chemical substances in large quantities gave rise to an increasing demand for a proper system of classification which would enable personell handling these substances to readily be able to identify the hazards associated with them and take the necessary action to ensure their safety and that of those people around them. SOLAS – or The International Convention For Safety of Life at Sea – first proposed in 1929 and only finally adopted in 1948 , gave rise to publications such as the IMDG Code and IATA Code and also many other related conventions. Whilst these are all incredibly important, it became apparent in the last decade or so , that not all countries or authorities were applying the same rules for classifying these and the task was placed on the UNECE to come up with a plan to harmonise these methods internationally and so the GHS – or Globally Harmonised System of classification of dangerous chemicals was born. The following exerpt from the UNECE website elaborates further on this and also provides links to the reader to pursue their knowledge of this system further.

Over the years and especially since ships stopped being sailed by  their owner as captain, and with the advances in technology and international trade, the movement of dangerous chemical substances in large quantities gave rise to an increasing demand for a proper system of classification which would enable personell handling these substances to readily be able to identify the hazards associated with them and take the necessary action to ensure their safety and that of those people around them. SOLAS – or The International Convention For Safety of Life at Sea – first proposed in 1929 and only finally adopted in 1948 , gave rise to publications such as the IMDG Code and IATA Code and also many other related conventions. Whilst these are all incredibly important, it became apparent in the last decade or so , that not all countries or authorities were applying the same rules for classifying these and the task was placed on the UNECE to come up with a plan to harmonise these methods internationally and so the GHS – or Globally Harmonised System of classification of dangerous chemicals was born. The following excerpt from the UNECE website elaborates further on this and also provides links to the reader to pursue their knowledge of this system further.

Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

Chemicals, through the different steps from their production to their handling, transport and use, are a real danger for human health and the environment. People of any ages, from children to elderly, using many different languages and alphabets, belonging to various social conditions, including illiterates, are daily confronted to dangerous products (chemicals, pesticides, etc.)

To face this danger, and given the reality of the extensive global trade in chemicals and the need to develop national programs to ensure their safe use, transport and disposal, it was recognized that an internationally-harmonized approach to classification and labelling would provide the foundation for such programs. Once countries have consistent and appropriate information on the chemicals they import or produce in their own countries, the infrastructure to control chemical exposures and protect people and the environment can be established in a comprehensive manner.

The new system, which was called “Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)”, addresses classification of chemicals by types of hazard and proposes harmonized hazard communication elements, including labels and safety data sheets. It aims at ensuring that information on physical hazards and toxicity from chemicals be available in order to enhance the protection of human health and the environment during the handling, transport and use of these chemicals. The GHS also provides a basis for harmonization of rules and regulations on chemicals at national, regional and worldwide level, an important factor also for trade facilitation.

The first edition of the GHS, which was intended to serve as the initial basis for the global implementation of the system, was approved by the Committee of Experts at its first session (11-13 December 2002) and published in 2003. Since then, the GHS has been updated, revised and improved every two years as needs arise and experience is gained in its implementation.

The fourth revised edition of the GHS (GHS Rev.4) takes account of the amendments adopted by the Committee of Experts at its fifth session (10 December 2010) which were consolidated in document ST/SG/AC.10/38/Add.3. These amendments include, inter alia, new hazard categories for chemically unstable gases and non-flammable aerosols; further rationalization of precautionary statements, and further clarification of some of the criteria to avoid differences in their interpretation.

While governments, regional institutions and international organizations are the primary audiences for the GHS, it also contains sufficient context and guidance for those in industry who will ultimately be implementing the requirements which have been adopted.

The Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), adopted in Johannesburg in 2002, encourages countries to implement the GHS as soon as possible with a view to having the system fully operational as soon as possible.

Information about the status of implementation of the GHS by country is available (in English only) here.

http://www.unece.org/trans/danger/publi/ghs/ghs_welcome_e.html

The following chart is provided with the compliments of  “The ICC Compliance Centre” Contact Lynne Smith at lsmith@thecompliancecentre.com or see their website at www.thecompliancecentre.com if you wish to obtain wall charts or discuss training on the GHS

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