Arguably one of the most important classification systems in the world, the Global Harmonised System allows synergy across the planet with regards to safety symbols for the labelling of chemicals.
Ensuring that people from all corners of the globe can understand the warnings and heed them, the system was designed by an international team of specialists in the hazard communication field. Utilised not only through public signs, the GHS can be found within labels and safety data sheets (SDS) internationally.
Even today, many countries have their own series of symbols for classifying chemicals – with some utilising different versions within one country – meaning that an overarching understanding can be achieved regardless of the location.
Here are the main aims of the GHS:
- To promote efficient regulation
- To facilitate trade
- To ease compliance
- To provide consistent information
- To reduce costs
- To assist better medical support to chemical incidents
- To encourage safe transportation of chemicals
- To reduce need for testing on animals
There are many classes within the three hazard groups – physical, health and environmental hazards – including:
- Skin corrosion/irritation
- Acute toxicity
- Serious eye damage/irritation
- Respiratory or skin sensitivity
- Germ cell mutagenicity
- Reproductive toxicity
- Specific target organ toxicity – where exposure is repeated
- Specific target organ toxicity – where exposure is singular
- Aspiration hazard
- Flammable gases
- Flammable solids
- Flammable liquids
- Self-reactive mixtures or substances
- Substances and mixtures which, when in contact with water, will emit flammable gases
- Oxidising liquids
- Oxidising solids
The system was implemented by the United Nations, primarily to promote safety and continuity between international traders of chemicals worldwide. Whilst it may seem that way, the system isn’t actually a legal requirement or binding way of working, simply something devised to put everyone on the same page with regards to chemical handling.
Countries who choose to opt into the system – of which there are currently over 65 – can implement as much or as little of the guidelines as they wish. Once implemented, it must work under the jurisdiction of each country, enforced however the nation wishes to proceed.
Whilst the GHS has proved helpful in countries that already have their own guise of classification system, but another benefit comes in the fact that the system can be implemented into countries that didn’t have any structure in place beforehand. This promotes safety in the strongest way, as these countries may have formerly operated without any guidelines.
At Label Bar, we pride ourselves in supplying the means for companies to adhere to the GHS, with a vast range of GHS-approved labels for your domestic, commercial or industrial premises. In a variety of sizes, we cater to all scenarios – whether it’s a symbol for the back of a truck carrying lethal chemicals, or simply a small label for local schools to efficiently raise awareness in the science classroom.
Peruse our selection for more information and, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, contact us today and our specialist advisors will assist you with obtaining the labels you require.