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GHS SDS Improves Safety in Workplaces

• The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals is a set of recommendations developed by the UN. GHS incorporates guidelines on production, handling, transport and disposal of hazardous chemicals. Countries across the world are adapting GHS in a variety of ways and this has resulted in greater safety in workplaces as well as during storage and transport.

• The system can be said to comprise of two components. One is the GHS SDS (safety data sheets). Divided into 16 sections, the standardized format makes it easy for everyone across the world to refer to, understand and act on the data sheet. Of more relevance to workers in the production process and people involved in storage and logistics is the other part of the SDS, which is the labeling system. The labeling has been revamped with the inclusion of 6 elements. Since both the safety data sheet and the labeling are now standardized across the world, it is easier for even those with less education to read and understand labels.

• Of course, modern technologies also help. Facilities are required to maintain at least one printed copy within easy access in production or handling areas. It is no surprise that printed copies are not referred to as often as they should be because they are not easily accessible. Modern IT technologies allow companies to store electronic formats of the data sheets in their computer system or in the cloud and make them available either through workstations on the shop floor or on personal devices such as smartphones and tablets. A supervisor who needs clarification can now easily refer the SDS and get immediate information. Knowledge helps them take appropriate precautionary steps that avoid accidents

• In the case of workers who are not sufficiently literate it is the pictograms that give unequivocal information about the nature of the chemical they are handling. Whether it is workers in the production process or workers in transport and logistics who handle containers, they look at labels first. The revised GHS labels are unambiguous. Further, where cross border trade is involved, the SDS as well as labels must be in the local language in commonly used words and phrases without any ambiguity.

• For manufacturers and dealers engaged in cross border trade it is important to have the GHS SDS prepared by experts. There are two reasons. One is that the expert is fully aware of various ways GHS is implemented in different countries and applicable clauses. The second is that they can translate the document to regional languages. Experts also assist with selection of the right category and the right classification of the product in the SDS meant for a specific country.

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Ghs sds improves safety in workplaces