Advocating for global harmonised chemical management system in the GCC

Advocating for global harmonised chemical management system in the GCC
Published: 2 February 2020 - 7 a.m.
By: Dr Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun
Chemical manufacturing in the Arabian Gulf has seen a dramatic growth over the last decade, driving great economic development and stimulating the creation of further downstream industries. As downstream production continues to grow, the quantities of dangerous goods being transported by road increases. While individual efforts across the GCC are currently in place to regulate the transport of dangerous goods, adopting a common regulation that unifies all efforts will help create a true harmonised system across the GCC.

Since 2009, GPCA has been successfully driving the improvement of standards through voluntary initiatives such as Responsible Care and Gulf SQAS, but to achieve the step change required both inside and outside the fence, robust and consistent regulations need to be adopted across the region.

Collaboration between government, industry and the regulators will be of paramount importance to address chemical management risks in a sustainable and effective manner. To facilitate a platform and a dialogue for the exchange of insight and cooperation among key regional stakeholders, on 6 February 2020, GPCA will organise a roundtable entitled ‘Government and Chemical Industry Collaboration: Harmonised Chemical Management in GCC’, hosted by Borouge. The roundtable will seek to pave the way for the implementation of GHS (Global Harmonised System) and ADR (Dangerous Goods Road Transport) across the GCC states.

Introduced by the UN in 1992, GHS is a single worldwide system for classifying and communicating the hazardous properties of industrial and consumer chemicals. Adopting GHS in the region will create far-reaching benefits for the economy, environment, industry and society. It will improve the safety of employees and protect our natural surroundings by providing accurate data and promoting safe handling of chemicals based on solid scientific principles. It will standardise the format and unify the hazardous classification in the supply chain communication and support the compliance principles of Responsible Care. Finally, it will enable the industry’s future growth by expanding into international markets, facilitating trading and helping companies maintain positive corporate image and credibility.

Benefits to governments and regulators
The availability of unified hazard data for regulators and government agencies such as customs, municipalities, ministries of environment, health, labour, industry, and others will increase dramatically with the implementation of GHS. It will facilitate a consistent cross-border information and removal of trade barriers, with improved exchange of information between GCC states, and apply structured enforcement methods.

As a result, a robust and successful chemical management framework will be created, resulting in improved domestic and international reputation for individual states and the region as a whole. Further, it will safeguard the safety and wellbeing of the general public by reducing the risk of incidents involving hazardous chemicals due to lack of knowledge and adequate understanding and help increase confidence and trust of citizens in the industrial community.

The case for adopting ADR
ADR, the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road, is an international regulation, based on the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods Model Regulations. Adopting ADR in the region will help establish a uniform way of behaviour when handling and transporting dangerous goods.

It will also help establish design, construction, testing and operating standards of all vehicles involved in the carriage of dangerous goods. ADR will enable the GCC to align with other transport regulations such as those for air and sea. This in turn will make the transport of dangerous goods between countries and continents more efficient for those involved, while helping to facilitate trade and improving the health, safety, environment, and security standards.

Advocating effective change
GPCA’s advocacy pillar is focused on addressing key industry challenges and advancing the GCC region’s objectives in relation to sustainability, industry standards and regulations through strategic initiatives and programmes launched by GPCA and supported by its members in the Arabian Gulf region, and globally.

As part of our efforts to drive the improvement of standards in the region and facilitating collaboration, GPCA has united its efforts with the Gulf Standardization Organization (GSO), recently signing an MoU for joint collaboration in the development of effective regional industry standards. As the leading trade association, representing chemical industry producers in the region, GPCA is committed to knowledge-based process improvement, and standardising chemical industry regulations in the GCC, working closely with GSO.

Today, GPCA’s commitment to raising the bar in the region remains stronger than ever. This is reflected in the leaps and bounds made in the improvement of standards through the adoption and adaptation of global, industry-leading initiatives such as Responsible Care and SQAS. Yet firmer action is required to truly address the challenges surrounding safe chemical management in the region.

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