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The GHS – Is Your Organisation Ready for the June 2015 Deadline?

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 inevitably puts organizations 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 posed if misused. It is also 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. 

Current system CHIP (Chemical Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Law set by the Dangerous Substances Directive (DSD) and the Dangerous Preparations Directive (DPD) that many chemical companies will be familiar with, is now being replaced by the GHS (Globally Harmonized System of classification and labelling chemicals) set by the direct-acting European CLP Regulation.

Download our Guide to Producing GHS Labels

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

Globally the chemical industry will experience several benefits including:

  • Increased levels of international trade.
  • Reduce the need for testing and evaluation against multiple classification systems.
  • Enhance the protection of human health and the environment by providing an internationally understood system.

Individual chemical manufacturers, suppliers and distributers will benefit through:

  • Efficiency gains regarding reduced cost in complying with the new GHS regulations.
  • Applying expert systems, resulting in maximizing expert resources and minimizing labour and costs.
  • Expanded use of training programs on health and safety.
  • Reduced costs due to fewer accidents and illnesses.

Employees of the chemical industry will also be better off due to:

  • Improved safety for workers and others through consistent and simplified communications on chemical hazards and practices to follow for safe handling and use.
  • Greater awareness of hazards, resulting in safer use of chemicals in the workplace and in the home.

With the reclassification implemented for chemical substances since 2010, the reclassification date for chemical mixtures now looms. By June 2015, mixtures must be reclassified if existing or classified if new, in accordance to CLP by using the Globally Harmonised System. From this date, both Directives (DSD / DPD) will be withdrawn and will no longer have any legal effect. As a result, CHIP will also be repealed.

However, there are transitional arrangements in place to help suppliers make the move to the CLP Regulation, which recognises that there are millions of mixtures placed on the market and that suppliers will need time to make the necessary adjustments. An extended reclassification date of June 2017 will apply to products that are already physically in the supply chain and have left the manufacturer’s premises of before June 2015. It is important to remember that this strictly applies to product batches only, and is not to be confused with product lines, so you will be not be able to continue using the CHIP system until a product line is discontinued.

Best practice steps to follow to help you prepare are:

  1. Firstly, familiarise yourself  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 steps will secure you and your organisation a smooth transition to comply with the CLP regulation.

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