The use of chemicals is key piece to businesses and economies worldwide. In fact, chemicals are all around us and directly affect our food, lifestyle, and health. It is because of their widespread use that the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), was developed. According to OSHA.com, the GHS is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals. In addition to the labels, (Material) Safety Data Sheets (SDS) may also be required to provide information on potential hazards and how to work safely with the chemical product.
Hazards or dangers associated with certain chemicals are classified into three main GHS classifications. These are the GHS Physical Hazards (explosives, flammable gases, self-reacting substances, etc.), GHS Health and Environment Hazards (eye effects, skin irritation, sensitization, etc.), and environmental hazards such as chemicals hazardous to the Aquatic Environment. These are however very flexible and multiple classes can be administered to certain hazards or dangers.
The next step after classifying a chemical is to communicate the hazard(s) to the respective market. This is where the SDS and labels come into play. They provide the hazardous properties of chemicals that may pose a health, physical or environmental hazard during normal handling or use, according the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA also provides the following standardized label elements to be included in the GHS:
- Symbols (hazard pictograms): Convey health, physical and environmental hazard information, assigned to a GHS hazard class and category.
- Signal Words: "Danger" or "Warning" are used to emphasize hazards and indicate the relative level of severity of the hazard, assigned to a GHS hazard class and category.
- Hazard Statements: Standard phrases assigned to a hazard class and category that describe the nature of the hazard.
- Precautionary Statements and Pictograms: Measures to minimize or prevent adverse effects.
- Product Identifier (ingredient disclosure): Name or number used for a hazardous product on a label or in the SDS.
- Supplier identification: The name, address and telephone number should be provided on the label.
- Supplemental information: non-harmonized information.
There are a multitude of benefits that come from utilizing GHS in the chemical world such as reduced costs due to fewer accidents and illnesses, as well as improving a businesses image and credibility to list a couple. By having the information available on hazardous properties of chemicals, human health and the environment can be rightfully protected. There will be a greater understanding of potential hazards, which will result in safer use of chemicals in the workplace and home.
Thank you for your time and attention. Let’s make it safe this Monday.
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company