ILO Instruments and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

Filed under: Accidents and Safety,Safety & Workplace Violence |

Around the world, over 1 million workers lose their lives annually due to exposure to toxic chemicals, with countless other workers suffering from debilitating disease and chronic illness. Major industrial accidents continue to pose a grave threat to workers, as evidenced by recent events, such as the 2020 explosion in the port of Beirut which killed hundreds and injured thousands.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) aims to protect workers and work toward sound chemicals management through the promotion and ratification of its International labour standards (ILS) related to chemicals and OSH. A number of ILS require the implementation of systems for hazard classification, communication and training.

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), developed following a number of major industrial accidents in the 1970s and 1980s, plays a fundamental role in protecting workers from chemical hazards through its system of harmonized chemical labels (pictograms) and safety data sheets.

This report examines the critical synergies between the GHS and the ILO’s ILS on chemicals and OSH, aiming to promote GHS implementation and an even greater engagement of the world of work towards the sound management of chemicals.

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