An Introduction to GHS
Around the world, massive amounts of hazardous materials are shipped, stored, and handled daily basis. With these materials transported globally, there was a need for standardization to prevent a potentially disastrous and easily avoidable incident from occurring. In this blog post, we will discuss GHS and the importance of the communication standard. We will also outline your company's responsibilities and why you must properly train your workforce, to satisfy GHS compliance.
What is GHS?
The Globally Harmonized System (or GHS for short), is an internationally recognized system developed by the UN for the safe production, transport, handling, use, and disposal of hazardous materials. For our American friends, GHS is governed under Hazard Communication Standard 2012 (HazCom) whereas in Canada GHS is better known as WHMIS which in 2015 adopted the GHS classification criteria and hazard communication elements, which include new hazard classes and symbols, standardized labeling requirements, and a new safety data sheet (SDS) format.
What are the company's responsibilities?
Under GHS, companies are responsible for ensuring that their workers receive adequate and thorough training on hazardous materials at each worksite, properly store and label all hazardous materials and have an adequate Emergency Response Plan (ERP) in place. Companies must also make readily available to all workers the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all of the hazardous materials they may encounter. The SDS must be in the new GHS format and frequently reviewed and updated. As mentioned in our previous blog Continuous program improvements are necessary to prevent future incidents as most work conditions (and materials) are ever-evolving.
Who do the GHS standards apply to?
You might think GHS doesn't pertain to you given your work environment. Well, this is a common misconception and is simply not true. GHS applies to all workplaces where hazardous materials are present. This includes office buildings, factories, warehouses, construction sites, etc. If you work in a place where hazardous materials are used or stored, you must understand GHS and both your and your company's responsibilities (i.e. Emergency Response, training, handling, and labeling). What is a Hazardous Material a simple definition is “any item or agent (biological, chemical, radiological, and/or physical) that has the ability to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment.”
If you have any questions about GHS or your company's responsibilities, be sure to ask your supervisor or reach out to us. Stay safe and informed! GHS is here to protect workers like you.
Thank you for joining us on our journey to achieve Zero!
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” — Eckhart Tolle