Webinar on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
On July 13, 2021, the Indian Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals (DCPC), Indian Chemical Council (ICC) and International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) convened a webinar on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
The GHS is an internationally agreed-upon standard managed by the United Nations that was created to harmonize criteria for classifying substances and mixtures according to their health, environmental and physical hazards. Core elements of the GHS include standardized hazard testing criteria, universal hazard pictograms, and harmonized requirements for labelling and safety data sheets. A properly implemented GHS is fundamental to any chemicals management scheme as it synchronizes hazard communication globally, improves workers’ and environmental protections and facilitates trade.
ICCA and ICC offered their support to the DCPC in regards to future endeavors related to the GHS, and, following the webinar, DCPC, ICC and ICCA are working to jointly identify opportunities for future information sharing about the global context and benefits of the GHS.
DCPC Joint Secretary Jha was the Chief Guest, and shared highlights of India’s new chemicals management scheme with participants. Ms. Raleigh Davis, Director for Global Affairs at the American Chemistry Council, moderated a discussion with Ms. Cissie Yeung, Singapore Chemical Industry Council member and former Industry Co-Chair of Singapore’s National Chemical Management and GHS Task Force, and Dr. Ana Ocampo, Director of Responsible Care Colombia, to share best practices and lessons learned from GHS implementation in Singapore, Colombia and the United States. The panelists noted important steps for effective GHS implementation, including creation of a national GHS coordinating committee, establishment of a GHS-based policy and/or legal framework, resource planning, and capacity building and development of compliance tools for industry.
Ms. Divya Datt, Deputy Head of India Country Office, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), noted the importance of GHS as the basis for the hazard and risk assessment of chemicals and its contributions to achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Ms. Datt expressed UNEP’s support for the adoption and implementation of GHS in India.
In addition to the Indian Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Indian officials from the National Authority for Chemical Weapons Convention, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, Ministry of Labour & Employment, Chemexcil and the National Disaster Management Authority participated in the meeting.
The GHS webinar was an extension of the highly successful and long-standing partnership between ICCA and ICC. Since 2011, ICCA and ICC have worked together to foster environment, health, safety, and chemical security (EHS&S) excellence in India by supporting implementation of the industry’s Responsible Care® program. Responsible Care is the chemical industry’s global EHS&S performance initiative currently being implemented by chemical companies in more than 65 economies across the globe. In 2020, ICCA and ICC launched the India Pilot Project, a 2-year commitment which seeks to improve chemicals management and safety in the country, with a focus on transportation safety.