What is the GHS?
The GHS is an acronym for The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. The GHS is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labelling of chemicals. It is a logical and comprehensive approach to:
- Defining health, physical and environmental hazards of chemicals;
- Creating classification processes that use available data on chemicals for comparison with the defined hazard criteria;
- Communicating hazard information, as well as protective measures, on labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
Benefits of the GHS
The GHS standard covers over 43 million workers who produce or handle hazardous chemicals in more than five million workplaces across the country. The modification is expected to prevent over 500 workplace injuries and illnesses and 43 fatalities annually. Once fully implemented it will also:
- Enhance worker comprehension of hazards, especially for low and limited-literacy workers, reduce confusion in the workplace, facilitate safety training, and result in safer handling and use of chemicals;
- Provide workers quicker and more efficient access to information on the safety data sheets;
- Result in cost savings to American businesses of more than $475 million in productivity improvements, fewer safety data sheet and label updates and simpler new hazard communication training
Why do we need the GHS?
A major problem faced by the chemical industry worldwide is the inconsistency between national and regional systems for chemical classification. In 2003, the United Nations (UN) adopted the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
A global harmonization system is intended to replace these multiple systems with one uniform system that all parties have adopted. The GHS regulations provide a basis for synchronization of Material Safety Data Sheets by specifying rules and regulations on hazardous materials at national, regional and worldwide levels.
Who will the GHS affect?
The globally harmonized system will have tremendous effects on the chemical data management industry. As OSHA Hazard Communication Standards move toward complying with the globally harmonized system, it is important to maintain MSDSs that are compliant with the GHS regulations. Regulatory revisions will call for MSDS authoring in both content and format of current Material Safety Data Sheets as the GHS regulations are implemented throughout the US.
What does GHS mean by the term Chemical?
The term "chemical" is broadly used by GHS to include substances, products, mixtures, preparations, or any other term that may be used by existing systems.