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Dispatches from DGAC 2015—GHS “Building Blocks”

Posted on 11/11/2015 by Roger Marks

From November 2–4, the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council hosted its 37th Annual Conference and Dangerous Goods Transportation Expo in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Every year, this conference brings together hazardous materials shippers, carriers, and regulatory experts to network and discuss the latest developments in dangerous goods ground, air, rail, and vessel shipping.

Training coordinator Jared Blasdell represented Lion Technology at the conference, providing live updates via Twitter throughout the week. To keep up with the latest regulatory issues affecting hazmat shippers, hazardous waste facilities, manufacturers, and environmental professionals, follow Lion on Twitter here.

The “Building Blocks” of GHS Chemical Classification

Among the biggest issues discussed during Conference sessions was the Globally Harmonized System of Classifying and Labeling Chemicals, or GHS. DGAC presenter and GHS expert Paul Brigandi provided insight on the “building blocks” of GHS and the challenges of harmonizing hazard classification criteria between nations. Ideally, Brigandi noted, international harmonization will allow scientists—no matter where they are—to analyze the same chemical properties and test data to arrive at the same hazard classification.

That said, differences in the way nations have implemented the GHS chemical classification criteria may lead to not-so-harmonized results. For example, the US has adopted a lesser threshold for regulating some hazards than the EU has, which could result in confusion about which GHS pictograms shippers should use for international chemical shipments.

GHS Chemical Classification Challenges

Expanding on Mr. Brigandi’s “building blocks” discussion, industry expert and hazmat columnist Gene Sanders led attendees through a mock hazard classification exercise using three fictional materials. The exercise clearly showed the difficulties of classifying hazards and determining which pictograms to affix on a package—or whether a pictogram should be used at all.

Sanders also illustrated the difficulty of completing Section 14 of the newly formatted 16-section GHS Safety Data Sheet (SDS), using a flammable/combustible material as an example.

Later in the conference, Paul Brigandi returned to the podium to discuss hazards newly identified under GHS—desensitized explosives and pyrophoric gases. These newly identified hazards will require training for employees exposed to these types of materials before June 1, 2016. Brigandi also discussed the ongoing challenges of GHS labels for small containers and packages.

Also by June 1, 2016, employers must update their workplace hazard labeling system to bring it into compliance with the GHS requirements.

GHS for Hazmat Shippers Webinar

For hazmat shippers, GHS labeling standards affect more than workplace safety. Shippers already affix US DOT-required hazmat labels to containers and packages. Adding new GHS labels to the mix, along with unique hazard classification criteria and pictograms, is causing concern. Cut through the confusion with a live, instructor-led webinar designed specifically to help hazmat shippers navigate the shift to GHS hazard communication.

The GHS for Hazmat Shippers Webinar will help you ensure your shipments meet OSHA and US DOT requirements and keep your hazmat packages moving safely and on time.

More DGAC Dispatches on the Way!

Next up—we break down an update on US hazmat regulations from the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Check back at Lion News for more, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to make sure you’re among the first to know when we post new updates.

Tags: GHS, hazmat shipping

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