Hazard Communication and the Globally Harmonized System
This section will deal with hazard communication methods, and specifically the “Globally Harmonized System” (GHS). The Globally Harmonized System is an internationally agreed upon system of communicating hazards globally as a result of increased international trade. GHS was created by the United Nations beginning in 1992, but as of 2016 it is not yet fully implemented (although it is implemented for the United States and many other countries).
Within GHS, hazards are broken down into physical hazards, health hazards and environmental hazards.
Physical Hazards include:
- Flammable Liquids
- Flammable Solids
- Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides
- Toxic and Infectious Substances
- Radioactive Substances
- Substances Corrosive to Metal
- Miscellaneous Dangerous Substances
Health hazards include:
- Acute toxicity
- Skin corrosion
- Skin irritation
- Serious eye damage
- Eye irritation
- Respiratory sensitizer
- Skin sensitizer
- Germ cell mutagenicity
- Reproductive toxicity
- Specific target organ toxicity (STOT)
- Aspiration hazard
Environmental hazards include:
- Acute aquatic toxicity
- Chronic aquatic toxicity
Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
The safety data sheet (SDS) is the backbone of hazard communication and is vital to the globally harmonized system. Note that GHS drops the previously used “material” from MSDS. The SDS provides information designed for use in the workplace, and is divided into the following categories:
- Hazard(s) Identification
- Composition / Ingredients
- First-Aid Measures
- Fire-Fighting Measures
- Accidental Release Measures
- Handling and Storage
- Exposure Control / Personal Protection
- Physical and Chemical Properties
- Stability and Reactivity
- Toxicological Information
- Ecological Information
- Disposal Considerations
- Transport Information
- Regulatory Information
- Other Information
GHS Label Elements
GHS includes detailed requirements for labeling materials and mixtures in a manner that is easily recognizable globally. The standardized label elements include:
Symbols – Symbols and pictograms are used to convey hazard information. Individual pictograms are assigned to specific GHS hazard classes. Pictograms have black symbols framed with a red diamond. Harmful chemicals and irritants are marked with an exclamation mark.
Signal Words – “Danger” or “Warning” will be used to emphasize hazards as dictated by the material’s hazard class.
Hazard Statements – Standard phrases are assigned to specific hazard classes to convey information about the material.
Precautionary Statements – Standardized precautionary statements are used to prevent adverse effects of potential hazards. The four classes of precautionary statements are: prevention, response in cases of spillage or exposure, storage, and disposal.
Product Identifier – The product identifier is essentially an ingredient disclosure, including names, identifying numbers, and chemical identities of substances that pose or contribute to health hazards.
Supplier Identification – The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the product’s supplier.
Supplemental Information – Information that provides further detail that does not contradict the validity of standardized hazard information, typically information that is useful but not required elsewhere within GHS.
Carcinogenicity – The potential to cause cancer
LC50 – The concentration at which 50% of a population is killed by expposure
LD50 – The dose at which 50% of a population is killed by exposure. Dosages are typically normalized for the mass of the subject, and may contain descriptors about the route of administration and typical times until death.
Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) – Limits for exposure as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( OSHA).
Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) – Limits for exposure as defined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Threshold Limit Values (TLV) – Limits for exposure as defined by the American Conference for Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Protective equipment worn to protect a user from exposure to a hazard, often recommended by an SDS.
Chemical Protective Equipment (CPC) – Protective equipment worn to protect a user from exposure to a chemical, often recommended by an SDS,