Industries around the world use a wide-range of different chemicals to create products and accomplish other tasks. Many of these chemicals have properties that can make them very dangerous if not stored, shipped, and used properly. Given the fact that companies from around the world often work together to use, store, and ship these chemicals, it is important to have one set of safety communication standards that will make it easy for everyone to understand the risks. This is why the globally harmonized system was developed.
This standard uses simple pictograms to convey various hazards so that even if employees don’t speak the same language, they can still easily identify the risks associated with a chemical that is being used. GHS is used by thousands of companies around the world. In many cases, this standard is followed voluntarily, but in others it is required by OSHA or other regulatory agencies. Regardless of whether it is voluntary or due to compulsion from the government, it is important to know how GHS is implemented in order to ensure it is done properly.
The first thing that needs to be done when implementing GHS is to provide training to all employees (including contractors, vendors, and others who may interact with chemicals in any way). Teaching employees what each of the pictograms mean, how to create or access the proper labels, and what to do in an emergency is essential for a successful GHS implementation.
Anytime a hazardous chemical comes to your company, it must be labeled with a GHS pictogram. The easiest way to make this happen is to have an industrial label printer on site. Using this printer, you can print the exact pictograms that are needed for each chemical. If your facility uses specific chemicals on a regular basis, you can print off a large number of the relevant pictograms so they are ready when chemicals arrive.
Even if you are just storing the chemicals, or shipping them for another company, it is necessary to include these types of labels. Having employees apply the labels (if they aren’t already present when they arrive) is a major step in compliance with the GHS strategy.
Gather Safety Data Sheets & Other Information
In addition to the pictograms, you’ll need to have safety data sheets (SDS) on site for any chemical that is present. Fortunately, SDSs can be found online and printed off very easily. One copy of each SDS needs to be stored on site and easily accessible so employees or emergency responders can read the information should it be needed.
Once you have completed these steps, you have implemented the basics of GHS. Ongoing training and other implantation can be taken care of over time. Keep in mind, if your facility begins using new chemicals, you will need to go through these steps again for the new chemical in order to ensure everything is in order.
- Can GHS pictograms be black and white?
- Are GHS pictograms and hazard labels the same?
- How can I properly create GHS labels?
- What is the GHS format?
- When is GHS required?
- What is GHS training?