23 November 2012

Cebu Stakeholders Take on GHS Chemical Hazards and Proper Labeling System

23 November 2012, Cebu City.  A significant step towards global efforts on appropriate chemical management has gained momentum as over 80 individuals from several local groups throughout the province of Cebu took part in an awareness-raising training about chemical hazard classification and proper labeling systems.

The EcoWaste Coalition, in partnership with the Board of Investments (BOI), a government agency attached to the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC), has organized a training seminar on the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals at the University of Cebu, Banilad Campus in Cebu City.

GHS is a novel internationally-established framework for communicating chemical hazard information, integrating harmonized chemical hazard classification measures and provisions for standardized labels and safety data sheets.

Representatives 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 various cities and municipalities in Cebu.

“The workshop aims to inform the public about the physical, health and environmental hazards of chemicals, thereby acquainting them about the GHS and its relevance to our daily lives,” said Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee member based in Cebu.

“Several countries have already set chemical regulatory systems like GHS and it is our humble desire to assist the concerned agencies in crafting a national implementation scheme for GHS, which is also aligned with the objectives of EcoWaste Coalition’s advocacies on chemical safety and environmental health,” she added.

According to the Official Website of the Cebu Provincial Government, Cebu “is the second largest city and is the fastest growing economy in the Philippines as it leads the country in exporting items such as furniture, fashion accessories, carrageenan and gifts, toys and housewares.”

Furthermore, Cebu is “the most accessible place in the Philippines, with more domestic air and sea linkages than Manila as it is base to over 80 percent of inter-island shipping capacity in the Philippines,” as stated in the provincial website.

As such, the implementation of GHS will be beneficial to the economic stability and growth in the province as it will reduce health care costs, enhance workers’ protection and lower the possibilities of chemical accidents and emergencies.

Local industries will also benefit in terms of efficiency as costs of enforcement and compliance with hazard communication regulations will be greatly reduced as the need for duplicative testing of chemicals on export products will be avoided. Products made in Cebu will also get a boost not only in the national but also in the international market as GHS labeling will improve corporate image and credibility.

Engr. Nelia Granadillos, chief of the Environmental Control Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City, mentioned in her presentation that “the GHS offers information about the hazards of chemicals in order to aid the consumers in determining suitable safety precautions needed in handling these chemicals.”

“A compatible GHS includes distinguishable chemical hazard classification, user-friendly labeling system, and instructive hazard information on labels and safety data sheets,” she said.

Under the standardized scheme for chemical labeling, a GHS label includes a symbol or pictogram, signal word (for example: “danger,” “warning”) and hazard statement (e.g. “fatal if swallowed,” “toxic if swallowed,” “harmful if swallowed,” “may be harmful if swallowed”). 

Other important GHS label information includes the product identifier, supplier identification and the relevant precautionary statement/s.  

All hazardous chemicals, such as pure substances as well as dilute solutions and mixtures, are covered by the GHS.

The Cebu City workshop organized by the EcoWaste Coalition, just like the one held in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija last November 8, and the succeeding one to be held in Quezon City on November 28 are financed by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) under the BOI-UNITAR GHS Project.


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