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Raising awareness

For the past two weeks we have informed the public about the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, more commonly called GHS. We looked at its benefits and pictograms. In this issue, we will take a look at the educational activities that will be used to raise awareness about the GHS.

These activities will target persons who are involved with the import, production, use, handling, transport and disposal of chemicals in Barbados. More specifically, the activities will target regulators such as the Customs and Excise Department, the Pesticides Control Board and agencies in the area of commerce along with users and handlers in the agricultural, transport and industry sectors. Additionally, substantial efforts will be made to raise awareness of ordinary customers and the youth in secondary and tertiary institutions.

The methods of delivery may vary, but everyone will get the same basic information, that is, the methods used by the GHS to communicate the hazards of chemicals. These methods include the use of standardised labels and Safety Data Sheets. The information found on the label and the SDS of the product will help individuals to be more aware of what they are dealing with and how to go about handling the chemical safely.

A typical GHS label may contain the following information:

* A Product Identifier

* A Signal Word

* Pictograms

* Hazard Statement

* Precautionary Statements

* Supplemental Information

* Supplier Information.

At the very least, the label must contain a product identifier, signal word, pictogram and hazard statements.

The Product Identifier is the name or code used to identify a chemical, and can include the UN shipping name or the CAS number. The Signal Word refers to the words Warning or Danger. Warning refers to those chemicals that may pose less of a severe hazard, while Danger indicates more severe hazards.

A Pictogram is a symbol with a red border in the shape of a square set at a point. The graphics convey hazardous information of the chemical.

Hazard Statements are phrases, which describe the dangers of the chemical, while the Precautionary Statements are the phrases or symbols that describe the recommended actions to reduce or avoid negative effects to health or the environment.

The Supplemental Information is the additional information provided by the manufacturer or supplier at their discretion, and the Supplier information will include the name, address, and contact information for the manufacturer or supplier of the substance or mixture.

SDS should provide comprehensive information about a chemical for use in the workplace. Both employers and workers may use it as a source of information about hazards, including environmental hazards, and to obtain advice on safety precautions. The information in the SDS is presented using 16 headings in a specific order.

Further information on the GHS can be found in the Purple Book, created by the United Nations.

We encourage you to learn more about the GHS, which aims to protect you through better hazard communication.

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