Chemical hazards classification and communication systems are key elements of the sound management of chemicals. To harmonise these systems worldwide, the United Nations adopted in 2003 the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The GHS is an important tool for countries to develop or modify national programmes and to facilitate trade.
With the goal to enhance knowledge and skills to apply the GHS, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is offering an in-depth and interactive GHS e-Learning course. The course is adapted from the GHS training course materials developed by UNITAR, the International Labour Organization (ILO), and Orange House Partnership (OHP), and was peer-reviewed by a technical advisory group of UNITAR/ILO in the context of the UN Subcommittee of Experts on the GHS (UN SCEGHS).
The overall goal of the course is to enhance the participants' knowledge and skills for applying the GHS. Participants will learn about: the purpose, scope and application of the GHS; classification of hazardous substances and mixtures; and hazard communication (i.e., labelling and safety data sheets). The course gives participants the opportunity to apply the knowledge to different exercises and tests so they will be prepared to implement the GHS in their own work contexts.
After completing the course, participants will be able to:
- Describe the international policy framework for the GHS and international chemicals management;
- Apply GHS criteria in classifying physical, health, and environmental hazards;
- Select appropriate hazard communication elements;
- Develop GHS-based labels and classification and labelling for safety data sheets;
- Develop effective hazard communication strategies adapted to specific contexts.
The course consists of the following four modules:
- Introduction, Hazard Classification, Scientific Principles and Hazard Communication;
- Classification of Physical Hazards;
- Classification of Health Hazards;
- Classification of Environmental Hazards.
These modules are spread throughout a period of 10 weeks and represent a total of approximately 75 learning hours.
The course is internet-based, interactive and practice-oriented. It places emphasis on self-paced learning to accommodate professionals in full-time work.
Moderated by tutors who are internationally recognized experts in GHS, the course elements were designed by professionals with over 40 years’ experience in the field.
Each module is composed of four elements: lessons, discussion forums, exercises and tests. The lessons are based on the main GHS Document (the "Purple Book") and provide the knowledge to apply the GHS. The discussion forums are supported by tutors and foster interaction and reflection on issues related to the topic. The exercises allow the learners to test their knowledge in order to prepare for the tests and final examination. Learners can also discuss specific elements with the tutors in case of difficulties or questions.
Participants who successfully complete all the mandatory activities and assessments will receive a UNITAR certificate.
The course targets the following groups and individuals:
GHS competent authorities
Civil servants in national ministries, provincial departments, and local authorities (“regulators”)
Environmental and occupational safety managers in the private sector
Private sector employees responsible for hazard assessment/classification and preparing labels and safety data sheets
Civil society organizations interested in consumer safety, chemicals management, or right-to-know
Faculty members, researchers, and students
As this is an advanced and technical course, participants are expected to have a solid basic knowledge in natural sciences (chemistry, biology) and in mathematics (for rather non-advanced equations -e.g., see sub-section 220.127.116.11 in the Purple Book, p.62), as well as some experience with non-GHS classification systems and/or in hazard/risk assessments
Access to the Internet is an essential condition for participation. In case of unreliable connection or for ease of access (e.g. while travelling), the course content can be downloaded in e-book format. UNITAR also recommends the following as a minimum in hardware and software to take this e-learning course:
Windows 7 or higher, MacOS X for Apple computers
At least 2Gb of RAM, 4 G of free disk space
Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat Reader (downloadable for free at http://www.adobe.com)
Your network administrator or a person who has basic knowledge of hardware and networks will be able to tell you whether or not your computer/setup meets the requirements.