What is a Globally Harmonized System (GHS)? The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) refers to the use of a single common method of classifying and labeling of hazardous chemicals. The common aim of this international effort to promote common standards consistent to categorize chemicals according to their environmental risks, physical and health. It also means that the communication tools such as risk consistent labeling and worksheets are material safety of the system. The GHS has been working continuously from the Conference (Earth Summit) 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. The harmonization of classification and labeling of chemicals has become a priority.
The overall goal is to have GHS available by the end of 2001. Why do we need a global harmonization? This situation has been regular face and apply to governments, costly and confusing for companies that must comply with many different systems and confusing for workers who need to understand risks of a chemical to work safely. The GHS promises to provide several different benefits. These include: promoting regulatory efficiencies Trade Facilitation Facilitation Provide compliance cost reduction and improved risk information consistently stimulate the transport and safe use of chemicals promote better emergency response and chemical incidents, and reduce the need for animal testing What are the areas chosen for development? The harmonized system for classifying chemicals according to the environmental and health risks include: acute toxicity Skin irritation / corrosion Eye irritation / corrosion awareness of skin or respiratory germ cell mutations in cancer-oriented systemic toxicity Reproductive toxicity to target organs Risks to the aquatic environment to the terrestrial environment Hazardous and Chemical mixtures chemicals presenting physical hazards will also be harmonized and include: Liquid Flammable Solid Flammable Liquids Flammable Aerosols self-heating pyrophoric substances Substances which in contact with water, emit gases Gas Liquids oxidizing oxidizing oxidizing solid organic peroxides autoreactive Explosive Substances (liquid or solid) and explosive items Corrosion to metals more information, including criteria currently discussed, is located in the OECD (the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Web site: Which countries are participating in the GHS? Key stakeholders to develop the Globally Harmonized System includes a number of governments such as Canada, USA, Australia, United Kingdom, China and Japan.