The Globally Harmonized System is a worldwide instrumentality to facilitate normal criteria for allocation chemicals according to their physical, health and environmental hazards. It defines and classifies threatens of chemical products and provides safety and heath information on stickers and material safety data sheets. In order to deliver the information in a more comprehensive way, the system uses signal words such as: “Danger” and “Warning”, pictograms and other hazard statements.
The Globally Harmonized System was founded by the United States. The first time the project was represented at the United Nations Rio Conference in 1992. That time there have already been many various regulations on hazard classification that were used in many countries. The Globally Harmonized System was created in order to replace all the multiplicity of the classification systems and introduce one unique standard which all countries will be able to follow.
All general regulations of the GHS are described in its main document "The Purple Book". The document has established explanatory information on how to use the system, described mechanisms on how to meet the basic requirements of any hazard communication system. The first edition of the GHS was confirmed by the Committee of Experts at its first session, which took place on 11-13 December 2002, and published in 2003. The main goal of this edition was to serve as the fundamental basis for the global implementation of the system. Since that time, the GHS has been changed, edited and revised many times. The fourth edition of the GHS was adopted by the Committee of Experts at its fifth session that took place on 10 December 2010. The document included the description of the new hazard categories for chemical gases and non-flammable aerosols (UNECE).
The main goals of GHS
The primary aim of GHS is to create better defense of man`s health and the environment by establishing chemical users and booklets with the important information about chemical hazards. What is more, the GHS provides the unique worldwide system, according to which all the labels and data sheets have the same format, meaning and can be understandable in all the countries that have accepted the system. GHS provides the regulatory building blocks in order to develop or change in a better way the existing international programs that deal with the chemical hazards. This helps to convince the secure usage of chemicals. At last, GHS assists encouraging a movement towards the reduction of harmful chemicals, especially, mutagens, carcinogens and reproductive toxins, or their substitution with less dangerous (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals).
What are the advantages of GHS?
If to take to consideration the main goals of GHS it can be concluded that the implementation of effective peril communication provides advantages in the different spheres: for workers, members of the public, governments and companies.
Firstly, the benefits to the members of the public and workers include improvement of the safety conditions for the workers and others with the help of permanent and simplistic communications on chemical hazards, providing practices for safe handling and usage, promotion of the awareness of danger that is a result of the safer usage of chemicals in the workplaces and at home (Fagotto, Elena).
Secondly, the benefits to companies include more safety work atmosphere and reformed collaboration with employees; the huge growth of efficiency and abridged costs from compliance with danger communication interrelationships. What is more, the usage of expert systems has a result of increasing expert sources and decreasing of costs and labor. The application of electronic transmission systems increased the usage of training programs on safety and health. In addition, it reduced the costs in order to prevent the future accidents and illnesses and to make better the general status and credibility (United States Department of Labor).
Thirdly, the benefits to government include the reduced amount of chemical accidents and incidents; the lower rate of health care costs; the better protection of workers and the public; the reduction in the costs of enforcement and constant status on chemical problems.
What is more, GHS facilitates trades. GHS reduces money-spending and time-consuming operations that are needed to deal with the multiple classification and labeling systems. This promotes more permanent situation in regulation and decreasing non-tariff barriers to trade. In addition, GHS provides the system of regulations to the countries without developed regulatory system, which means the GHS promotes sound management of chemicals worldwide.
What are the disadvantages of GHS?
Even though GHS has lots of benefits to the countries, but there are still some disadvantages.
Firstly, the primary aim of the GHS was to unite all the countries in the one unique worldwide system, according to which all the labels and data sheets have the same format, meaning and can be understandable in all the countries that have accepted the system. However, not all the countries have accepted the system. There are five Founding Members of GHS: European Union, Canada, United States, Australia and Japan. The president ship is converted among the Founding Members and today resides with Japan. The Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development encouraged countries to implement the GHS as soon as possible in order to have the fully operational system as soon as possible (UNECE).
Secondly, to develop and maintain a classification system is not an easy task. The GHS can be embraced as an instrument for promoting the national regulations. There is a hope that the countries that do not have any regulation systems will accept GHS as their main basic formula. The GHS ensures the system of building blocks according to which the countries can build chemical safety programs. Even though the GHS will lead the operation, many challenges can occur in forming of new regulations. For example the questions about the legal framework adoption, the agencies involvement, the stakeholder cooperation supporting for implementing the GHS and others can occur.
Why is Globally Harmonized System necessary?
Nowadays many countries have various systems to classify and label the chemical products. What is more, few of these systems can exist even in the same country at the same time. This situation leads to the extra expenses for the governments to regulate and enforce, it is money-consuming for the companies who have to deal with lots of systems, and challenging for workers who need to know properly the hazards of a chemical in order to work in non-hazardous environment .
GHS is going to deliver few distinct advantages: to promote regulatory assistance efficiency by weakling the trafficking is more responsive to the emergency situations with chemical incidents, adherence a consistent reduction in risk promoting the safe transport, providing improvement of the expanses, handling and usage of chemicals promoting better emergency response to chemical incidents, and decline the need for testing on animals (UNECE).
GHS is it a move to the right direction?
To sum everything up, it can be said that Globally Harmonized System is the move to the right direction for several reasons.
The system has united a lot of countries around the world with the aim to make all the labels and data sheets to have the same format, meaning and can be understandable in all the countries that have accepted the system. The system has a lot of benefits not only for the governments and companies, but for the workers and public people. Among them is promoting the protection of human health and the environment, providing information about hazard chemicals and propaganda of the sound management of chemicals worldwide. What is more, the system almost doesn’t have disadvantages. Among them is only not available access of the countries that didn`t accept the system. However, in the future, the GHS would be developed and this problem would be solved.
What is more, GHS is the system that controls the criteria of natural environment and health. The problem of the polluted environment and the people`s health will always be a burning issue that is why it is the necessary to have the only the regulation system. The system has good possibilities of development because the international trade is growing; there still exist different requirements for labeling of chemicals, and has to be the one international safety standard required. The GHS is going to create consistency in the classification system and labeling of all chemicals. It will improve and simplify danger communication. This will lead to the development of the communication system and alert the user to the existence of a danger and the need to decrease the level of exposure and risk. This will result in the safety transportation and usage of chemicals.
In addition, the Globally Harmonization system was established in 1992 year, which proves one more time its necessity. It has become the first universal regulation system that confirms its position worldwide, during this time many countries accepted the system, many labels were created, and many people became aware of the hazard, which is a confirmation that Globally Harmonization System is a move to the right direction.