Safety of employees at workplaces is a prime responsibility of manufacturers and dealers of hazardous chemicals. It is also indispensable during the entire chain of storage and transport of chemicals. Those involved must know about the chemical, its properties, risks and methods of safe handling. All such information Is usually contained in accompanying safety data sheets compiled to GHS norms. SDS of a chemical product is usually divided into 16 well defined sections. In comparison to previous MSDS, the new GHS compliant SDS are harmonized and standardized, making it easier for everyone across the world involved in handling, processing or storage of chemicals to know its hazards.
GHS container labels form an important component of SDS. According to the mandate the new and improved GHS labeling system must be used from June 2016. Apart from the SDS the changed label does contribute to safety of employees at workplaces. Labels also help emergency responders and logistic personnel in safe handling, transport and storage of chemicals. Such labels with pictograms are easily read from a distance and the image based information transcends language barriers. Text in SDS may lose some of the original meaning during translation or may be open to interpretation but pictograms are immediately recognizable and give information at a glance,e specially to handlers and drivers.
The new GHS labeling is an improvement over the previous ones. The older container labels conveyed only three elements of information relating to name and address of manufacturer/importer/dealer, hazard warning and identity of the product. The new GHS labels for containers are significantly detailed covering:
- Disclosure of chemical identity of the substance including ingredients of mixtures and formulations and related health damages in the product identifier section;
- Signal words to inform about the hazard level, with specific signal words being assigned to various hazard categories;
- Hazard statements comprising of unambiguous phrase linked to the hazard class and category as well as hazard statement and code;
- Precautionary statements for measures to be taken to minimize adverse effects on exposure;
- Supplier identification showing name, address, telephone number, and, last but not least,
- Pictograms including a graphical image including symbols, border and background pattern or color to convey information at a glance.
The GHS label on the container is mostly viewed first and gives primary information in a much more detailed fashion than the labels previously used. It is not necessary to list out all hazards, which are usually contained in the SDS prepared by professionals such as icsds.com.
Usually chemicals are transferred to secondary containers for use by employees during processing. This is where the GHS implementation of labeling helps protect and safeguard them. Employers are required to label such secondary containers with the information provided on the shipped containers and/or product identifier, pictures, symbols and words relating to physical and health hazards. Employers are also required to conduct training on SDS and related safety procedures. ICSDS assists in upgradation of MSDS to SDS or preparation of new ones and in preparation of labelling for primary and secondary containers as well as translation, assuring safety of handlers, no matter where they are located.