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How Health, Safety, and Environmental Issues Will Shape the Future of Your Business

(April 2008) posted on Thu Apr 03, 2008

European initiatives and a push for greener manufacturing by multinational corporations are factors that are beginning to have an impact on specialty printing companies in the US. Learn what the pressure to standardize health and safety regulations and adopt sustainable business-operation methods means for your company.


By Marcia Y. Kinter

No longer can a company simply focus on what is happening in their own backyard. We have long accepted that we operate in a global economy. Now it is becoming increasingly clear that programs adopted by other countries, as well as corporations truly impact the operations of the screen- and digital-printing industries. To remain successful, a company has to be aware of decisions made by other national governments, as well as multinational corporations. This is definitely a new way of conducting business in the USA.

The good news is that the key issues impacting our industry can be easily identified. Several key initiatives will dramatically change the way the average printing facility conducts business. Two issues are authored by European Agencies, while the third is being driven by multinational corporations and the marketplace.

 

The Global Harmonization Standard : The new and improved Right to Know

All are familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Right to Know or Hazard Communication Standard. This standard requires us to effectively communicate the chemical hazards found in our workplaces to our employees on a regular basis. For quite a while, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been working on the development of a Global Harmonization Standard, or GHS. At first blush, one may wish to offer congratulations to the ISO for undertaking this extensive venture. Long have facilities requested one form for all Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), as well as one set of symbols for labeling purposes.

However, the GHS is not in itself a regulation or a model regulation. It is a framework derived from the existing major international systems from which countries may select the appropriate harmonized classification & communication elements and decide individually how to apply the various elements of the GHS within their own systems. So, even within the GHS framework, individual countries may choose which elements to implement. The important GHS elements include the following:

• harmonized criteria for classifying substances and mixtures according to their health, environmental and physical hazards

• harmonized hazard communication elements, including requirements for label ing and MSDSs.


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