Applying GHS in the Real World
With all the changes in the Regulatory world of late, it is quite easy to feel smothered by the weight of the upcoming compliance tasks and associated paperwork. One of the changes with possibly the most far-reaching effect, is the promulgation of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) by the United Nations. The unavoidable challenges related
to this and the recommended world-wide implementation by 2008 has created a significant buzz in the world of Environmental Safety and Health.
First let’s discuss the benefits, for there are many. A unified form of communication across multiple countries and agencies provides the ability to present a clear and consistent message that ultimately leads to further protection for people and the environment. Messages presented consistently will allow those exposed to chemicals to handle, transport, use, and dispose of them properly, which will lower the number of incidents and the costs associated. Additionally, it is inevitable that ease of communication will have the effect of improving international trade. The
unification resulting from a harmonized system will allow those in the chemical world to easily cross borders, with little additional cost. 'Initially, the UN hoped an additional benefit would be realized in the costs associated with communication, as chemicals would only need to be classified once, for all agencies.' Ruth Mayo, SiteHawk's Regulatory Compliance Specialist, states. 'At the recent SCHC conference I learned that many competent
authorities in the early adoption countries are applying the GHS building blocks in such a fashion that makes it unique to their country.In addition, they are including country specific classification categories not covered by the GHS as ‘supplemental information’. This limits country-to-country similarities which in turn limits the proposed benefits.”
Because of the possible effect this could have on communication, it is something that should be monitored closely over the coming months.