The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals describes and categorizes the hazards of chemical products, and imparts health and safety notification on labels and safety data sheets (SDS). The aim is to have uniformity worldwide in terms of setting rules for classifying risks and in the format and content of labels and safety data sheets. A global team of risk communication experts established the GHS.
As a key component of the GHS, the safety data sheets are meant to give extensive information about a substance or compound to be used in the workplace. Found in the SDS are information about hazards, that include environmental hazards, and advice about safety precautions.
The SDS is usually connected to the product and not specific to the workplace. The text on an SDS allows the employer to come up with an effective plan of worker safety measures that include training which is applicable to the work environment. More than that, the plan can include mandatory measures to safeguard the environment.
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The GHS safety data sheet also provides crucial information to whoever will encounter the products. There is advice for those who will transport the harmful chemicals, those who will address emergency situations such as poison centers, and those who will use the products as part of their work.
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So how does one determine if a product should have a SDS? A SDS is required for substances and compounds which meet the agreed standards for physical, health or environmental risks under the GHS. It is also applied on all mixtures that contain elements that are classified as carcinogenic, harmful to reproduction, or toxic to organs in concentrations surpassing the cut-off levels specified by the standards for compounds. Competent professionals may likewise prescribe SDS for mixtures that do not meet the standards for classification but contain toxic ingredients in considerable concentrations.
The SDS format presents information under the following headings and in the order enumerated below: Identification, Hazard(s) identification, Composition/information on ingredients, First-aid measures, Fire-fighting measures, Accidental release measures, Handling and Storage, Exposure controls/personal protection, Physical and chemical properties, Stability and reactivity, Toxicological information, Ecological information, Disposal considerations, Transport information, Regulatory information, and Other information.
With regards to the content of the SDS, it should have a detailed description of the data utilized to single out the hazards. The fundamental information for each heading must be present. Should a particular data be not pertinent or not gettable under a specific heading, the SDS should unambiguously state this. There are instances when the headings have national or regional information so the SDS should include what is relevant for the area where it is headed.