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Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals

Work health and safety (WHS) legislation has introduced into Australia a new system of chemical classification and hazard communication called the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). By 2017, this system will replace current systems used for classifying workplace chemicals and will standardise information on labels and Safety Data Sheets.

Workplaces in states that have not adopted the model WHS legislation will still be affected by the introduction of the GHS as labels and Safety Data Sheets are written to the new format and interstate and overseas customers demand the requirements of the GHS are complied with.

The GHS is a single internationally agreed system of chemical classification and hazard communication through labelling and SDS. The GHS is published by the United Nations and includes harmonised criteria for the classification of physical hazards, health hazards and environmental hazards.

For modifications to the requirements of the GHS, refer to Schedule 6 of the WHS Regulations.

More information and answers to frequently asked questions is available from Safe Work Australia.

Links

Frequently Asked Questions
Link to Safe Work Australia

GHS Classification and Labelling of Chemicals
Link to Safe Work Australia

Exemption of suppliers in the supply chain

SafeWork SA has issued an exemption for suppliers of hazardous chemicals from complying with Regulation 338 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) where the hazardous chemicals were manufactured or in the case of imported hazardous chemicals, imported before 1 January 2017.

Regulation 338 requires that a supplier of a hazardous chemical must not supply a hazardous chemical to another workplace if it does not comply with GHS labelling requirements.

The exemption, subject to the condition that the hazardous chemicals are labelled in accordance with the National Code of Practice for Labelling of Workplace Substances [NOHSC:2012(1994)], enables existing stock in the supply chain as of 1 January 2017 to be supplied, handled, stored and used.

GHS amendments to the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA)

In addition, the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) (WHS Regulations) will be updated to reflect decisions made by Safe Work Australia to amend the model Work Health and Safety laws to:

  • clarify that it is not necessary to duplicate labelling requirements already required by other labelling laws
  • allow a person conducting a business or undertaking to use, store and handle hazardous chemicals labelled in accordance with the NOHSC Code of Practice if they were supplied before 1 January 2017, and
  • exempt Schedule 4 and 8 veterinary medicines from the GHS labelling requirements, as they  are already the subject of restricted controls.

The amendments to the WHS Regulations will come into operation on 1 January 2017.

Information for manufacturers and importers

Information for suppliers

Information for end user workplaces

Information for manufacturers and importers

Chemical manufacturers and importers are responsible for ensuring all hazardous chemical labels and safety data sheets are GHS compliant after 31 December 2016. This means re-labelling and replacing the safety data sheet for any non-GHS labelled hazardous chemicals that are to be supplied after the deadline.

Some manufacturers and suppliers are already GHS ready, and importers have been receiving GHS labelled goods from GHS compliant countries for some time. If this is the case you may only need to supply a GHS compliant SDS.

Manufacturers should refer to the Safe Work Australia website for GHS classification guidance and the GHS Purple Book.