The initial implementation of GHS (Global Harmonization System of Classification and Labels for Chemicals) will be costly and disruptive for chemical distributors and manufacturers alike. However, the long-term goals of GHS are undeniable. Remember, the mission of GHS is protection; the protection of human health and the environment.
How can GHS benefit businesses then?
Let’s consider how the implementation of GHS in an organization will benefit businesses by improving efficiency, simplifying reporting and better use of technology.
1. Less Regulation means simplified reporting
In the US, four government agencies have come together to standardize and simplify the regulatory reporting requirements in the chemical industry. OSHA, DOT, EPA, and CPSC have agreed to a common report format, SDS, which replaced repetitive, independent reporting requirements and multiple MSDS forms. Simplified reporting helps businesses by decreasing the tracking of redundant data in different formats, eliminates the guesswork in what data to capture and report on, and reduces errors which lead to fines and penalties.
Simplified reporting is also a more efficient use of technology, too, because chemical attributes and label requirements can be identified, once at master record IDs which are then captured during transactional activity. Reporting subsequently becomes a by-product of the process instead of a control point.
2. International Opportunity and Fair Trade
The adoption of GHS is worldwide, even in developing third-world countries. GHS was designed to identify chemical attributes and hazards consistently across the world. GHS opens the door to increased international imports and exports because transportation and customs agencies are in-sync with the regulatory requirements. Suppliers can more easily distribute goods knowing that country-specific agencies are less likely to reject or confiscate goods that meet the internationally-accepted SDS reporting requirements.
The use of technology is an important contributor to international growth especially with a product that supports multilingual capabilities. Standardized SDS reports means the form can easily be translated to support multiple languages and eliminates the management of multiple report forms and IT engagement.
3. Consistent, concise data might lead to less litigation
I’m not suggesting that GHS will completely eliminate litigation. Accidents and misuse cannot be completely dismissed. But, is it unreasonable to think that better labels warning of the hazards of chemical handling and use could lead to safer practices? If transportation and consumers are more aware of the dangers the chemicals present, perhaps more caution will be exercised during contact with the chemicals. Visual label warnings, pictograms, and trigger words like “danger” and “warning” are intended to consistently communicate the hazards more logically.
If an underlying goal of GHS is protection of health and environments, is it reasonable to suggest that over time, public awareness of the dangers chemicals pose will increase thereby reducing the mishandling of chemicals? I think so, in addition to the possibility of improving your business processes.
Whether your are interested in a cloud or on-premise solution, RKL eSolutions has helped chemical distributors and manufacturers implement an integrated technology solutions that meet today’s GHS and Label standards. Contact us to learn more.