GHS (Globally Harmonized System) is a worldwide program developed by the United Nations which strives to provide a consistent, globally harmonized system of classifying chemical hazards on labels and safety data sheets through standardizing. How hazards are classified: Hazard statements, Hazard symbols, and Hazard signal words. GHS is important because a consistent system for classifying chemicals in the workplace promotes worker safety and understanding. The shift toward standardized classification, labeling and SDS (Safety Data Sheets) provides a more uniform, user-friendly approach to hazard communication. In addition, a worldwide, harmonized system helps promote safe and efficient chemical handling and trade on a global level.
The United Nation’s GHS lays out the standardization practices for participating countries but does not enforce compliance. Each country is responsible for adopting and implementing the GHS through their enforcement agencies, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
On March 26, 2012, OSHA published the final rule to revise the Hazard Communication Standard §1910.1200 to align with the GHS.
The first step towards compliance with the revised Hazard Communication Standard is to educate and train employees on new GHS label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format. Now is the time to start preparing for new requirements.
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