Chemicals play a fundamental role in societies. However, alongside the benefits, they bring potential risks to people and the environment. Effective classification and communication schemes of hazards are key for the sound management of chemicals, but many countries do not have the legal and technical capacities in place to do so. The same chemical hazards are sometimes classified and communicated in different ways in different countries. As a result, workers, consumers, and the environment are not uniformly protected. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) has been developed to enhance and standardize this protection, across the globe.
GHS hazard pictograms
The GHS is an internationally-agreed system that provides countries with the regulatory building blocks to develop or modify existing national programmes. It sets criteria for the classification of chemical hazards and offers protective measures through labels and safety data sheets. Following-up on Chapter 19 of Agenda 21 from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the first official version of the GHS was endorsed by the United Nations in 2003. Since then, over 60 countries around the world have begun to implement it, partly or entirely (see http://www.unece.org/trans/danger/publi/ghs/implementation_e.html#c41818 for the latest information).
The GHS offers a powerful tool for the chemicals and waste multilateral environmental agreements, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and international trade.
For the latest version of the GHS official text, please visit: http://www.unece.org/trans/danger/publi/ghs/ghs_welcome_e.html.
With the goal of protecting human health and the environment, UNITAR plays an active role in capacity building for countries and regions to implement the GHS, as well as in providing information and outreach on GHS at regional and international levels.
Within the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the GHS, UNITAR and the International Labour Organization (ILO) act as focal points for capacity building in developing countries.
In addition, UNITAR plays a central role in the following bodies:
UNITAR project, GHS awareness-raising in Thailand
Past GHS projects in ASEAN - Phase II
For more information, please follow this link