Toxic and reactive substances can cause great harm if not dealt with properly. These hazardous chemicals and products must be managed in compliance with global standards to reduce the potential of human injury and environmental degradation. The Responsible Packaging Management Association of South Africa (RPMASA), an industry body dedicated to compliance throughout the supply chain, is concerned by the large number of South African companies who do not comply with the global requirements when dealing with hazardous chemicals throughout the supply chain.

When dealing with hazardous materials, companies should adhere to the latest global regulations. “We are aware of a lot of companies who deal with hazardous chemicals that are currently not aware or compliant with the latest regulations in the supply chain. Anything from implementing the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labeling of chemicals (GHS) to having a designated 24/7/365 helpline are requirements not being met,” says Liz Anderson, Executive Director at RPMASA.

The GHS is the new global requirement for chemical classification, Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and product labels aimed at protecting and informing people. Anderson mentions that the requirements are global standards and South African industry and retail companies that export their products are missing out on trade opportunities due to non-compliance. Another consequence of non-compliance is that companies bear the financial responsibility if an accident or incident occurs.

“A lot of companies, particularly in the retail industry where staffing is tight, have no designated person to keep up to date with new regulations and drive compliance. Many organisations are unaware that the products they produce, pack, label and transport need to comply with strict regulations throughout the supply chain,” says Anderson. ”There are many products with a chemical component such as pool chemicals, aerosols, personal products, paints, household cleaning products etc. The chemical components need to be classified into one of the nine transport classes as well as the GHS classes and be clearly marked on all labels and packaging, as well as on the transport vehicle. Companies also need to produce a SDS for products, and distribute it to all parties involved in the supply chain, from the factory workers and packers of the products, to the drivers of the delivery vehicles,” warns Anderson.

Another regulation that is currently not well implemented, is a designated 24/7/365 helpline that all companies who use chemical components in their products, must document in their SDS, and product labels. The helpline is intended to offer assistance to those, who have been involved in or witnessed a chemical spill or have been exposed to chemical products. “The staffing alone for such a helpline is expensive, which forces companies to use a general office hour’s customer service number as an alternative. This often results in inadequate assistance when a major problem occurs,” adds Anderson.

RPMASA’s services include chemical management supply chain solutions for companies dealing with hazardous chemicals. The Association offers basic and advanced training in GHS, and they have set up a 24/7/365 call centre hosted by TrenStar, and Toll free number that companies can use on their product packaging, labelling and transport vehicles. This is available to members and non-members. The company’s SDS is uploaded and updated seamlessly onto the cloud-based REACH Delivery UK system which is accessed by the call centre, and provides up-to-date product and transport information. The REACH Delivery system produces a receipt for the uploaded SDS, which is then used as proof of compliance.

“We urge all organisations, big and small, to participate in RPMASA’s GHS training programmes and Supply Chain Services to assist them comply with the global standards. These programmes are offered throughout the country,” concludes Anderson.

The next GHS training dates are 05 – 07 November 2014 in Durban. For more information about RPMASA contact 032 947 1145 | 032 947 1956, or visit


RPMASA is an industry association providing a focal point for organisations (industry and retail) involved in the llife cycle and supply chain of chemicals, chemical products and hazardous articles, which are regulated. It provides members with supply chain compliance solutions tailored to their company needs, and is a registered Non-Profit Organisation so subscriptions etc. are tax deductible.

The Association provides members with information, specialist knowledge, training, audit and consultancy opportunities, as well as new services to aid compliance in the supply chain. Information on chemical classification, packaging and labelling, handling, storage and transport, including Risk Assessments. RPMASA participates in various government fora for new Legislation and Regulations as well as International and National Standards.

It is the only Industry Association from Africa with a seat on the UN Committee of Experts for transport of dangerous goods and the UN GHS – Globally Harmonised System of classification and labeling of chemicals. It is thus uniquely placed to provide members with up to date international information, as well as new, and coming legislation for local and export markets, to assist them be pro-active with timeous compliance.