The Globally Harmonized System or GHS is an internationally agreed upon system for classifying and labeling hazardous chemicals. Created by the United Nations at a conference in Rio de Janiero in 1992, the GHS is meant to set standards for classifying and labeling hazardous materials. The GHS uses pictograms, signal words, and hazard warnings to relay information meant to improve safety in hazmat storage.
Before GHS, a wide variety of methods were used to mark chemicals depending upon the standards of the country of origin. In today’s global marketplace, with trade expanding at an exponential rate, a new set of universal standards was needed to streamline the safety criteria for hazmat storage. The new GHS system of labeling gives workers a simple way to understand the dangers of chemicals. In America, OSHA expects the new GHS guidelines to prevent over five hundred workplace injuries and illnesses and forty-three fatalities annually.
Some other benefits of a harmonized system includes the enhanced understanding of hazards, especially for low or limited-literacy workers. The new GHS also provides quicker and more efficient access to information. Adopting a new standard that will be used around the world reduces trade barriers. In the United States alone businesses are expected to see more than a half-billion dollars in productivity improvements in haz-mat storage.According to the EPA, the Benefits of GHS are:
- Enhance the protection of human health and the environment: “GHS will help ensure more consistency in the classification and labeling of all chemicals, thereby improving and simplifying hazard communication.”
- Promote sound management of chemicals worldwide: “GHS will provide a harmonized basis for the first step in the sound management of chemicals, identifying hazards and communicating them.”
- Facilitate Trade: “GHS will reduce costly and time-consuming activities needed to comply with multiple classification and labeling systems, promoting more consistency in regulation and reducing non-tariff barriers to trade.” 
FW Warehousing is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with Midwest warehouse distribution centers in Kansas City, Indianapolis and St. Louis totaling more than four million square feet. Founded in 1949 with a focus on food-grade storage, FW later broadened its services to include contract warehousing, dry storage, hazardous material and chemical storage, temperature-controlled storage, product distribution and B2B and B2C fulfillment.
FW Warehousing has more than 50 years of experience in third-party 3PL logistics and has been ranked in the top 100 Third Party Logistic Companies in the country by Inbound Logistics magazine.
For more information on haz-mat storage visit the FW Warehousing website.
1. Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (EPA) http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/international/globalharmon.htm
2. Printing Labels for Chemical Drums (Labeling News) http://www.labelingnews.com/2013/06/printing-labels-for-chemical-drums/