Barbados now has a cadre of persons trained in the correct way to handle and classify chemicals according to the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) guidelines.
This follows the training of 44 people representing government, industry and academia during a three-day workshop on Capacity Building in the GHS, which started on Tuesday, March 5 and concludes today, Thursday, March 7 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Environmental Technical Officer at the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Philip Pile, explained that GHS was a tool for communicating the threats of chemicals to users in a clear and consistent manner.
He added that the workshop, hosted by the EPD in association with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, was designed to raise awareness about the GHS, its methodology for hazard classification and its communication tools. This, he said, would allow users to make better decisions about how the chemicals were used, and reduce risks to the environment and themselves.
Mr. Pile said those trained would form a resource pool from which the EPD could draw on to facilitate training of a wider cross-section of sectors across Barbados.
"The cadre of trained professionals who participated in the workshop will contribute to the implementation of GHS in Barbados. These persons will form nuclei from which information about the GHS can be distributed throughout their various workplaces," he said.
The Environmental Technical Officer pointed out that the implementation of GHS provided Government with a number of benefits. These, he said, included fewer chemical accident and incidents; improved protection of workers and the public from chemical hazards; avoiding duplication efforts in creating national systems; reduction in the cost of enforcement; and improved reputation on chemical issues, both domestically and internationally.
For companies, the benefits of implementing GHS are a safer work environment and improved relations with employees; expanding use of training programmes on health and safety; reduced costs due to fewer accidents and illnesses; and improved corporate image and credibility. Meanwhile, workers too can benefit from improved safety through consistent and simplified communications on chemical hazards and practices to follow for safe handling and use, and a greater awareness of hazards, resulting in the safer use of chemicals in the workplace and in the home.