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Chemical Harmonisation: What JanSan professionals must know
The Globally Harmonised System of Classification & Labelling of Chemicals - part of a United Nations programme - is soon going to impact on the professional cleaning industry throughout the United States.
The US Occupational Safety & Health Administration is in the process of modifying the Hazard Communication Standard to ensure that information and labels on chemicals manufactured and used in the US are 'harmonised' with those manufactured in most other parts of the industrialised world (www.osha.gov).
Stephen Ashkin, President of The Ashkin Group, believes the changes will be beneficial.
"The changes are to make chemical labelling more consistent both in the US and around the world to help protect the health & safety of all users," he says.
"OSHA says the new standards will impact more than 40 million workers in more than five million US workplaces. They are also estimated to prevent over 500 chemical related injuries and more than 40 fatalities each year, and save businesses nearly $500 million annually."
Stephen says that some of the major changes cleaning professionals should be aware of include:
* Hazard classification: Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to determine if their products are hazardous and, if so, classify the hazards consistent with the new global hazard classification system.
* Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers must provide a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category. The pictograms will be especially helpful for non-technical people such as administrators, teachers, office and healthcare workers as well as cleaning workers who speak English as a second language. A pictogram consists of a symbol on a white background framed within a red, square-on-point border, designed to communicate a distinct hazard graphically.
* Safety Data Sheet (SDS): Material Safety Data Sheets are being replaced by the SDS, which requires 16 specific sections listed in set order for all products. This change will significantly improve training, as well as benefit purchasers who use this information when comparing products.
* Information and training: The new standard requires workers, including cleaning workers, to be trained by 1st December, 2013 on new label elements and SDS format. While the training deadline is quickly approaching, janitorial supply distributors will be able to sell their current inventory until 1st December, 2015, providing ample time to effectively manage their inventory.
"While some changes have already been implemented, others will be phased in over the next two years," says Stephen Ashkin. "This may cause some disruption, but we must remember the ultimate goal: protecting you, the cleaning professional, as well as everyone else who has exposure to cleaning chemicals."
Stephen Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specialising in greening the cleaning industry, and CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, which offers a cloud-based dashboard that allows organisations to measure, report and improve their sustainability efforts. He is also co-author of both The Business of Green Cleaning and Green Cleaning for Dummies.
T: (812) 332-7950
14th November 2013