Shipping office services, helpline, consultancy and supply chain security

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

Throughout the world there are different laws on how to identify the hazardous properties of chemicals we use in our daily lives and then how this information is passed to the users. This information is usually in the form of labels and Safety Data Sheets.

Because of the different laws it means that a chemical can leave one country being declared as non-hazardous for transport and use, but when it arrives at destination the authorities may deem it as hazardous for use and transport. This causes inevitable delivery delays and the need to undertake risk assessments before use.

The United Nations, together with experts from different countries, have created the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The objectives of GHS are -

a) Enhance the protection of human health and the environment by providing an internationally comprehensible system for hazard communication

b) Provide a recognized framework for those countries without an existing system

c) Reduce the need for testing and evaluation of chemicals;

d) Facilitate international trade in chemicals whose hazards have been properly assessed and identified on an international basis.

In simple terms this means there is a global uniform basis for the evaluation of substance properties, how to label them and then pass the information on to users.

In December 2010 the European Union implemented GHS and will classify chemical substances according to how dangerous they are and label them using standardised danger statements and pictograms, universally.

What will change on labels?

Risk phrases (R) become Danger statements (H phrases) – examples

H240 - Heating may cause an explosion

H320 - Causes eye irritation

H401 - Toxic to aquatic life

Safety phrases (R) become Precautionary statements (P phrases) – examples

P102 - Keep out of reach of children

P271 - Use only outdoors or in well-ventilated area

P410 - Protect from sunlight

The warning word that accompanied the pictogram will disappear and is replaced by “Warning” or “Danger” which will appear before the H and P phrases.

The pictograms will change. They will now be on a white background with a red frame. Some examples can be seen above on the right.

For products within the supply chain whose labels conform to the old classification, (this is covered by Directive 67/548/EWG), these can be continued to be delivered for up to two years.

Two deadlines for products labelled before GHS:

For re-labelling substances – 1st December 2012

For re-labelling mixtures – 1st December 2017.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) provides both employers and employees with a comprehensive source of information about the hazards within a product. They should be used as a reference source for the management of hazardous chemicals in the workplace to ensure that a programme for employee protection is in place, training is given and consider any hazards relating to the environment.

The format should have 16 headings as follows:

1. Identification

2. Hazard(s) identification

3. Composition/information on ingredients

4. First aid measures

5. Fire fighting measures

6. Accidental release measures

7. Handling and storage

8. Exposure controls/personal protection

9. Physical and chemical properties

10. Stability and reactivity

11. Toxicological information

12. Ecological information

13. Disposal considerations

14. Transport information

15. Regulatory information

16. Other information.

Written on 27th July 2011 by Yvonne McCarthy, S&H LLP Associate

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Europe’s small and medium-sized companies look to emerging markets for growth

Following in the footsteps of larger multinationals, Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly entering emerging markets to find and exploit niches for their businesses, according to new research from the Economist Intelligence Unit. The report, New horizons: Europe’s small and medium-sized businesses look to emerging markets for growth, also finds that the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) lead the field as emerging market destinations for European SMEs.

The report, written by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by FedEx Express, the US air freight giant, examines the degree to which Europe’s SMEs are operating in emerging markets: which markets they are choosing, why they are going there, and the opportunities and challenges that they are encountering.

The analysis is based on the findings of a survey of more than 600 executives from SMEs in Europe, as well as the conduct of more than 15 in-depth interviews. “Europe’s small businesses are increasingly looking for opportunities outside their home markets, which have been hit hard by the recession and aftermath,” says Jason Sumner, senior editor with the Economist Intelligence Unit and project director. “Emerging markets still present risks for these businesses but our research shows that the potential to find new customers is causing many to take the plunge.”

While many businesses used to go to emerging markets in order to lower their production costs, Europe’s SMEs are primarily seeking to tap into the rapidly expanding middle classes of emerging markets, either directly or else via the larger multinationals that they supply directly to, such as firms that supply parts to carmakers, for example. Nearly six in ten (58%) say that they are in these markets to sell their goods and services, far ahead of those either manufacturing goods there (11%) or buying services (12%).

Indeed, 51% noted the potential for fast revenue growth as the most attractive reason for being in these markets.

Following are the key findings of the report:

  • The rise of emerging markets is not just a big business phenomenon. Many European SMEs are deeply engaged as well. Although only a minority of Europe’s millions of SMEs overall operate outside their home markets, many of those that do are looking to emerging markets for growth. Almost 90% of the SMEs surveyed for this report, all of which operate outside their domestic markets, are planning to do business in emerging markets in the coming year.
  • Most SMEs are pursuing new customers rather than lower cost inputs. While many businesses used to go to emerging markets in order to lower their production costs, Europe’s SMEs are primarily seeking to tap into the rapidly expanding middle classes of emerging markets, either directly or else via the larger multinationals that they supply.
  • The financial crisis acted as a catalyst for expansion abroad. Europe’s weak economic prospects and tight fiscal position is accelerating the process of looking for growth outside the EU. In all, 62% of respondents agree that “tepid growth” in Europe makes it imperative to look to emerging markets for growth.
  • The BRICs will attract most attention from European SMEs in the coming year, followed by other near-shore markets. Growth rates, the degree of risk, ease of access and historical links all guide the process of how markets are selected to operate in. The top-10 emerging markets that Europe’s SMEs plan to do business with in the coming year are, in order of preference: China, Brazil, India, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Czech Republic, Morocco, Romania and Turkey.
  • Of these markets, Brazil has made the greatest strides in terms of improved perceptions. Given their greater likelihood for volatility, the relative favourability of emerging markets shifts year by year. In the past 12 months it has been Brazil’s chance to shine. Nearly half (48%) of SMEs noted improved perceptions of the country, bolstered by a smooth transition of political power and increased infrastructure spending in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and Olympic Games in 2016.
  • Inflation and exchange rates are the primary macroeconomic concerns for SMEs. Given the political risks of operating in emerging markets, political stability is generally viewed quite positively. However, inflation and exchange rates are seen as key macroeconomic risks: 23% of firms say inflation has become less favourable in their main target market in the past year.
  • At an operational level, bureaucracy and corruption are, by far, the biggest challenges. Selected equally by 46% of respondents, these issues lie far ahead of other challenges, such as credit risk (20%), difficulties enforcing contracts (18%), language and cultural barriers (16%) or bad infrastructure (14%).