Get the latest news, best practices and exclusive discounts

UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE – The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication

Sheila Bert

Posted by:

Sheila Bert | October 24, 2013 | Comments Off on UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE – The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication

If you were to go to a country and didn’t know the language, how would you find your way around? Pictograms have been used universally to make understanding easier for everyone. What does the following pictogram tell you?

coffeeDid you guess “coffee?” What about this one?   FORKDid you guess “Restaurant?” Pictograms create a universal language and takes us beyond the borders that used to inhibit our understanding.

Almost everyone knows this pictureRESTROOM which indicates accessibility for wheelchairs.

And who could live without the universal sign for restroom?Rest Room The same theory is being introduced in the Hazard Communication Standard with the Globally Harmonized System. The single most important force that drove the creation of the GHS was the international mandate adopted in the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), often called the “Earth Summit” which states:

“A globally harmonized hazard classification and compatible labeling system, including material safety data sheets and easily understandable symbols, should be available, if feasible, by the year 2000.”

One of the most important benefits expected in the application of the GHS is to:

  • Enhance the protection of human health and the environment by providing an internationally comprehensible system

There are benefits for governments, companies, workers, and members of the public. The most important of these is greater awareness of the hazards in working with chemicals resulting in improved safety for everyone who works with or near chemicals.

In the U.S., the EPA and OSHA would be expected to require hazard pictograms/symbols on labels.

In the workplace, it is expected that most of the GHS elements will be adopted, including;·

  • GHS physical and health hazard criteria, as appropriate;
  • Labels that have the harmonized core information under the GHS (signal words, hazard statements and symbols, etc.)
  • Safety Data Sheets
  • Employee training to help ensure effective communication

corrosiveCorrosive         Poison Poison      ExplosiveExplosive

OSHA requires employers to be in compliance with the new GHS in 2013. This includes employee training. Whether choosing to provide company training or using the services of an outside source such as The The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication is anticipated to make understanding hazardous chemicals easier for everyone.

Pictograms help us to create universal awareness and help protect people and the environment. Are you ready for the December 2013 deadline?

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is solely the opinion of the author and shall not be construed to be the opinion or views of or, including any employer of author, if any.

Short URL:

Comments are closed.