Companies that deal with hazardous chemicals need to have measures in place to alert its employees of the potential hazards posed by the chemicals in the workplace. To do this uniformly across the globe, the GHS classification was formed. The GHS pictograms stipulate the observance of several workplace safety practices as indicated below:
1. GHS Labels
GHS Labels should meet specific standards. The labels should ideally be in two languages, either English or French, depending on your country of operation. This is to avoid confusion and to enable its use internationally. The GHS labels have a conventional structure and use a highly standardized approach to communicate the details of the safety labels. The label will usually contain hazard pictograms, hazard statements, precautionary statements as well as other essential elements. They also have a self-laminating option that helps in maintaining the legibility of the text for longer.
2. The use of GHS Pictograms
GHS Pictograms are visual symbols usually made up of a black symbol placed on a white background and then set inside a red diamond-shaped border. They are intended to visually warn the persons who come in contact with the dangerous chemicals of the threat they pose and to alert them to take any protective measures they may need to prevent themselves from any harm. They appear on the chemical labels of the hazardous chemicals as well as on the safety data sheet (SDS) that usually accompanies them. Each pictogram is unique, and its use depends on the type of threat posed by the dangerous chemical. Pictograms that are blacked out on the label are an indication that they do not apply to the chemical contained whereas pictograms that are red are an indication of a threat posed by the hazardous chemical. For more information, please visit ICC Compliance Center to find additional resources.
3. The use of hazard statements
Hazard statements are brief sentences which provide more information on the specific danger posed by the specific chemical. They are usually short direct statements. Examples include: Highly Flammable gas, Fatal if inhaled, Causes skin irritation, Can cause cancer, among many others. The wording of the hazard also assists in indicating the degree of the danger. For instance, “May cause skin irritation” poses a bigger threat than “Suspected to cause skin irritation.”
4. The use of precautionary statements
These statements advise on how best to prevent adverse effects caused by exposure to hazardous products, improper storage or handling of the dangerous product. The statements address issues concerning first aid, product handling, protective equipment, and emergency measures to take. Their wording is standardized and harmonized. They are mainly five types: general, prevention, response (including first aid), storage, and disposal. Examples of these statements are: Wear protective clothing, If exposed, get medical attention, and Protect from sunlight. Their wording also indicates the degree of the threat posed by the chemicals.
A Final Thought:
As an employer, you should consider these work safety practices. Ensure your business is GHS safety compliant if your company handles hazardous chemicals. This will ensure you and your employees are safe from harm.