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American Society of Safety Engineers Poll Show Members See Global Program Increasing Chemical Use Safety

Posted in on Fri, Mar 23, 2007

Des Plaines, IL (March 23, 2007) — During an American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Global Harmonization of Labeling and Classification of Chemicals (GHS) technical audio conference yesterday, participants in a web poll voted overwhelmingly, 98 percent “yes” and two percent “no”, that they see hazardous communications systems improving as a result of GHS implementation.

GHS is an international system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals as a way to increase safety. The U.S. and other countries developed the GHS after more than a decade of technical work and negotiation. GHS is intended to enhance public health and environmental protection, as well as reduce barriers to trade. The GHS is intended to provide a comprehensive approach to defining health, physical and environmental hazards of chemicals; creating classification processes that use available data on chemicals for comparison with the defined hazard criteria; and communicating hazard information, as well as protective measures, on labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

The ASSE GHS conference call featured Jennifer Silk, former Deputy Director, Directorate of Standards and Guidance at OSHA, and Mary Frances Lowe of the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, discussing the impact of GHS on hazard communications for all industries, whether a manufacturer, importer, distributor, or end user. They also discussed how GHS would change MSDS, company Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) Programs and the impact it will have on safety, health and environmental professionals.

“Hundreds of safety, health and environmental professionals participated in the GHS call. This clearly illustrates that GHS will be a critical issue for the profession in the near future and has the potential to make a significant impact on workplace safety and health when the System is fully implemented,” Assistant Administrator of the ASSE Management Practice Specialty Christopher Gates, of San Bernardino, CA, said. Gates facilitated the call.

GHS conference call participants were asked and responded to additional poll questions on this issue which included: Does your company/organization have a HAZCOM program that has international issues? Yes- 72 percent, No – 28 percent; Is your company currently preparing for GHS? Yes – 52 percent, No – 48 percent; Does your company dedicate significant resources to international issues? Yes – 58 percent, No — 42 percent; Do you see hazardous communications systems improving as a result of GHS implementation? Yes – 98 percent, No – 2 percent; Will GHS assist you in streamlining your HAZCOM issues? Yes – 88 percent, No – 12 percent; and, Do you have international safety, health and environmental responsibilities? Yes – 61 percent, No – 39 percent.

Founded in 1911, ASSE is the oldest and largest professional safety society and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. It’s more than 30,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues. For more information please go to www.asse.org and for a copy of the GHS guidebook go to http://www.unece.org/trans/danger/publi/ghs/ghs_rev00/00files_e.html.
Contact: Diane Hurns, 847-768-3413, dhurns@asse.org



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