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The GHS Countdown - Are You Ready?

For many years, the global chemical industry has been struggling with multiple classifications, labels, and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for the same product from country to country, with different systems being used in different regions.

This of course puts organisations under significant pressure, requiring them to have complicated procedures in place, in order to thoroughly understand the chemicals they are handling and the potential hazards. It can be highly costly for companies to manage, difficult for governments to regulate, and exposes both the companies involved and their employees to trading risk and inconsistent levels of protection respectively.

The GHS is a UN model for classification, labelling, packaging and SDS of chemicals that has been introduced to help eradicate these industry challenges, bringing global, company and individual employee benefits through a single universal standard.

There are a number of benefits for chemical manufacturers, suppliers and distributors, including efficiency gains from the reduced cost in complying with the new GHS regulations, minimising labour costs from the application of expert systems, and an expanded use of training programs on health and safety.

In addition, employees will also benefit as there will be increased safety for workers through consistent and simplified communications on chemical hazards and practices to follow for safe handling and use. There will also be a greater awareness of hazards, resulting in safer use of chemicals in the workplace and at home.

So what do you need to do to be ready for GHS?

1. Firstly, familiarise yourself with what's required from your organisation for the June 2015 transition date
2. Perform a chemical inventory to assess the changes you will need to make
3. Create a transition plan for your company
4. Form a plan to acquire, update and manage incoming SDS documents
5. Update workplace labels according to new regulations
6. Schedule employee, client and supplier training to get them accustomed to the changes

Carrying out these six simple steps will ensure you and your organisation and employees have a smooth transition towards the introduction of CLP regulation.

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