GHS: Framework for International Hazardous Material Law

With the "Globally Harmonized System" GHS, there is an international framework for hazardous material law now to avoid misunderstandings: All relevant terminology is defined here, and all relevant countries either use GHS already or are about to change their regulations accordingly. But still, hazmat law is not identical in all countries, in some cases it does not even compare:

  • Every country can decide which parts of GHS (so-called "building blocks") it uses and which it skips.
  • Within a building block, certain limitations are allowed - e.g. hazard category Acute Tox. 5 is not adopted in many countries.
  • GHS is revised every two years, but not all countries adopt changes at the same time. Currently, different revisions of GHS are valid in different countries.
  • Legal classifications and occupational exposure limits still deviate significantly, as does other national law.

Transport according to IMDG (Seaship) and IATA-DGR (Air)

Hazardous material law for handling and storage, and hazardous goods law for transport are separate legal areas, but are converging over the years. Hazardous goods are regulated at the level of United Nations. Transports in passenger or cargo airplanes are subject to IATA-DGR which is updated annually. For seaship transport according to IMDG, updates take place every two years in every year with an odd number. Inland transports on water, road or rail are regulated on a national level.

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