08 November 2012

As local and global efforts towards the sound management of chemicals steadily gain steam, some 70 people from various fields and sectors today converged in the City of Gapan to learn about chemical hazards and protective labeling.

The participants came over to the Three Kings Parish Center for a workshop on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, or GHS, organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Krusada sa Kalikasan of Nueva Ecija in collaboration with the Board of Investments (BOI), a government agency attached to Department of Trade and Industry.

GHS is a new internationally-agreed tool for chemical hazard communication, incorporating harmonized chemical hazard classification criteria and provisions for standardized labels and safety data sheets.

The workshop participants – from the academe, civic and religious groups, labor and peasant associations, small and medium enterprises, government institutions, civil society organizations and the youth – came from the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Tarlac, and the cities of Baguio and Olongapo.

“The workshop seeks to familiarize stakeholders about the physical, health and environmental hazards of chemicals, and acquaint them about GHS and its practical application,” stated Edwin Alejo, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“This is part of our modest contribution to the development of the country’s implementation strategy for GHS, which ties in well with our goal to promote chemical safety and environmental health,” he added.

As cited by chemist Tess Corpuz in her presentation, “the purpose of the GHS is to provide information about the hazards of a chemical in order to help people determine the appropriate protections.”

“This includes identifying the hazard, assessing the severity of the effect, and communicating the information to users,” she said.

Under the standardized approach to chemicals labeling, a GHS label will include a symbol or pictogram, signal word (for example: “danger,” “warning”) and hazard statement (for example: “fatal if swallowed,” “toxic if swallowed,” “harmful if swallowed,” “may be harmful if swallowed”).

Other core GHS label information includes the product identifier, supplier identification and the relevant precautionary statement/s.  All hazardous chemicals, including pure substances as well as dilute solutions and mixtures, are covered by the GHS.

The Gapan City workshop and the two other succeeding ones to be organized by the EcoWaste Coalition in Cebu City and Quezon City are financed by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) under the BOI-UNITAR GHS Project.

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