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Anticipated Benefits of Adopting GHS

Implementation of GHS

The most important benefit of GHS is enhanced health and environmental protection through greater clarity and consistency in information provided to people who may be exposed to chemicals. GHS is designed to provide clear, consistent label messages to chemical handlers and users, emergency first responders, and the public.  Signal words, pictograms, and hazard statements will have the same meaning in all settings, domestically and internationally.

In the United States, there are four key agencies that regulate chemical hazard classification and communication. Each of these agencies currently has its own system, with classification criteria and use of symbols, signal words, and hazard statements differing between the agencies.  For example, the signal word “caution” has a different meaning on non-pesticide consumer product labels than it has on pesticide labels, and products with the same hazards may bear different signal words. This can cause confusion and result in increased risk. The standardization of these elements under GHS will promote better understanding, thereby increasing protection. Consistency of hazard communication on chemical labels will also help emergency first responders more easily and accurately identify what hazards are present in emergency situations.

A common system for identifying and classifying hazards and communicating them on labels and safety data sheets will also enhance global protection.

Another major benefit of GHS is that implementation will reduce barriers to trade and facilitate compliance by eliminating the need to comply with multiple hazard classification and communication systems. Companies will only have to classify once for all authorities that implement GHS worldwide.  This will reduce the need for testing and evaluation for multiple classification systems, domestically and internationally. By harmonizing symbols and signal words that currently differ in the U.S. and Canada, GHS could help facilitate unified pesticide labels under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Companies that are not involved in international trade will benefit from harmonization of domestic agencies’ classification and communication (label and safety data sheet) requirements. They will also receive more useful, consistent information from suppliers.

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