The International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSCs) project began in 1986 and is an undertaking of the International Programme on Chemical Safety (UNEP, ILO and WHO). It is being developed in co-operation with the Commission of the European Communities. ICSCs are comprehensive, concise, and simple summaries of essential health and safety information on specific chemicals for use as basic information and training tools at the "shop floor" level by workers and employers. Although of international origin, they are not legally binding. The cards consist of a series standard phrases on information collected, verified, and peer reviewed by internationally recognized experts, and taking into account advice from manufacturers and Poison Control Centers. Since the cards might be the principal information source in less developed areas or in small and medium size enterprises, their usefulness is increased by their availability in multiple languages. The cards make reference to existing classifications numbers and there is great similarity when compared with categories used in MSDSs; however, the information on the cards is abbreviated, standardized, and targeted for less technical readers. The cards are therefore considered complementary to the more detailed MSDSs. Approximately 60% of the goal of 2000 cards are now completed, including the periodic updates of existing cards. The ICSC serves as a model for disseminating chemical safety information to workers and is available in multiple languages on the Internet. The cards are part of the effort to achieve a globally harmonized system for the classification and labeling on chemicals.
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