by Susana Planas Mungavin
In accordance with Decree 1496 – which was approved on August 6, 2018 – the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) 6th Revised Edition will be implemented in Colombia. It will apply to a broad sector of public and private economic activities including extraction, production, import, storage, transport, distribution and use of chemical products, pure substances or mixtures meeting any of the hazardous GHS classification criteria.
Pharmaceutical products, food additives, cosmetics, pesticide residues in food and hazardous waste are all exempt from GHS classification and labeling requirements.
Designated authorities will be adopting implementing regulations, as the effective date of GHS implementation was not established by Decree 1496. Such authorities include the Ministry of Labor for chemical products used at the workplace; the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism regarding chemical products for consumer use, except hygiene products for home use, such as cleaners or pest control products and absorbents; the Ministry of Agriculture in relation to agricultural pesticides; and, the Ministry of Transport in relation to the transportation of hazardous chemicals by road.
Law 155 of 1993
With the implementation of GHS, the legal gap left by Law 155 of 1993 regarding the classification criteria that apply to hazardous chemical products will cease to exist. The classification criteria under Law 155 were based on the UN Convention No. 170 and Recommendation No. 177 on Safety in the Use of Chemical Products at Work.
Companies will now face the challenge of re-classifying and re-labeling products that were placed on the market in Colombia in accordance with classification criteria that were common practice prior to GHS, such as the US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Codes or the US Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS). These systems have generated the proliferation of labels and safety data sheets (SDS) that were proving to be confusing for local users.
GHS labels will be required on all hazardous products even if they are intended to be used only at the workplace. Labels must be clearly written in Spanish, and if possible, should also include other native languages of ethnic communities, especially for pesticide products that are sold in areas of agricultural or livestock activity.
Label & SDS Revisions
Manufacturers and importers must ensure that information provided on product labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) is kept up to date. They should be revised at least every 5 years in order to reflect any changes made in the composition of the product which may have had an impact on its hazardous classification and labeling. All SDSs must clearly indicate their authoring or latest revision date.
In the event of emergency situations, such as accidental spills or leaks, manufacturers, importers and/or distributors of chemical products will be required to immediately inform the relevant emergency authorities regarding product composition, as well as any confidential information in order to identify the necessary corrective measures.
- Manufacturers and importers should start promoting GHS via awareness campaigns, including occupational safety and health workshops and trainings that address the GHS requirements relating to product labeling and Safety Data Sheets.
- Review all product Safety Data Sheets at least every five years.
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Colombia, National Ministry of Labor, Decree Number 1492 of August 6, 2018, Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, GHS, Safety Data Sheets, SDS, Product Labels, Consumers, Safety