Revised Globally Harmonized System of classifying and labelling chemicals

By Janaina Topley Lira, Aug 22, 2013, 12:08 2 minute reading

The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has released the fifth revised version of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. Nine new pictograms have been introduced for the labelling of hazardous material such as anhydrous ammonia. Countries throughout the world including the European Union, Canada, China, Australia, and Japan are implementing the new GHS. 

The GHS, which unifies hazardous material classification standards worldwide, helps to avoid inconsistencies and misinterpretation by users, facilitating international trade and the protection of human health and the environment. The fifth revised edition of the GHS includes several updates:
  • New test method for oxidizing solids; 
  • Clarifications for the criteria for the hazard classes skin corrosion/irritation, severe eye damage/irritation and aerosols;
  • Revised classification and labelling summary tables
  • New codification system for pictograms
  • Revised and further rationalised precautionary statements
GHS ammonia classification
In addition to the written information concerning chemical hazards, the GHS prescribes 9 pictograms, each with a red-bordered diamond, and a black internal graphic on a white background. According to its classification under the GHS anhydrous ammonia must carry the following GHS symbols:
  • Compressed gas
  • Acute toxicity
  • Skin corrosion
  • Acute hazards to aquatic environment
The signal word for anhydrous ammonia is danger and the hazard statement is: flammable gas, toxic if inhaled, causes severe skin burns and eye damage, very toxic to aquatic life.
EU revises classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures
In the European Union (EU), the European Commission has adapted the 2008 Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP), in line with the revised GHS.
By 1 June 2017, all chemical products sold in Europe must be classified and labelled according to CLP regulation. This includes the phasing out of familiar warning symbols (black symbols on orange squares) and the introduction of new pictograms.
OSHA revises Hazard Communications Standard (HCS)
In the US, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Heath Administration) has revised its Hazard Communications Standard (HCS) in order to align with the GHS. Two significant changes contained in the revised standard require the use of new labelling elements and a standardised format for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).
OSHA has mandated that all employers train all employees on new OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, HazCom 2012, before 1 December 2013. As a result, OSHA inspections conducted after 1 December are likely to not only include verification of the required label/SDS training, but also inspection of the employer's overall compliance with the HCS.
With regards to the revised HCS future deadlines also include:
  • June 1, 2015: Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors and employers must comply with all other requirements of the revised HCS.
  • December 1, 2015: Distributors may not ship containers unless they contain approved labels.
  • June 1, 2016: Employers must update workplace labelling and their hazard communication programs as necessary, including additional employee training for newly-identified chemical hazards.
The GHS was first created in 1992 as a result of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Its elements represent a global approach using a universal system for identifying chemicals and communicating their hazards. 


By Janaina Topley Lira

Aug 22, 2013, 12:08

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