Do you comply with the WHS regulations for Hazardous Chemicals?
The Australian model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations introduced a new system of labelling hazardous chemicals. The new system is based on the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System (GHS) which is intended to align chemical classification and labelling globally.
The five-year transition period for the new laws ends on 31st December 2016.
Compliance is required by 1 st January 2017. To ensure that you meet this deadline, we recommend that you implement your changes now.
Some new Terms
What is a hazardous chemical?
According to the WHS Regulations, ‘Hazardous chemical’ means “a substance, mixture or article that satisfies the criteria for a hazard class in the GHS.” Generally, chemicals that were previously called ‘hazardous substances’ and/or ‘dangerous goods’ are now known as hazardous chemicals (there are some exceptions).
What is an SDS?
An SDS or Safety Data Sheet is similar to a previously titled Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). A chemical classified according to GHS criteria should have an SDS. The term SDS now replaces the term MSDS in the national model WHS legislation. SDS is also the term used internationally.
An SDS provides health and safety information about a hazardous chemical, including: the identity of the chemical, health and physical hazards, safe handling and storage procedures, emergency procedures and disposal considerations.
What do the changes mean for our business?
If you manufacture, supply or import chemicals:
Your chemicals need to be classified and labelled according the GHS and your Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) must comply with the GHS.
Note that you will not be allowed to supply chemicals without compliant GHS labels and SDSs after 31st December 2016. Now is the time to review the classification, labels and update Safety Data Sheets (SDSs).
If you use chemicals:
A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure that hazardous chemicals at the workplace are correctly labelled according to the GHS requirements (except consumer products). After 1st January 2017 any chemicals without GHS labels will need to be relabelled with a GHS label. Now is the time to remove old chemicals and talk to suppliers about labelling. All workers who handle chemicals need to be trained and understand how to recognise the hazard information and pictograms on the new labels and how to read an SDS. If your workplace has chemicals with the GHS labels, your workers need training.
Do Victorian and Western Australian businesses need to comply?
Whilst Victoria and WA have not adopted the WHS legislation or GHS for chemicals, many chemicals used in these states are manufactured elsewhere and will be labelled according to GHS. If your workplace has chemicals with the GHS labels, your workers need training to understand them.
Chemicals manufactured in Victoria or WA will need to comply with GHS labelling from January 2017 if supplied interstate.
Chemicals in Victoria or WA with GHS labels are compliant with state legislation. Do overseas GHS labels and SDS comply? There are differences in classification requirements for some substances. Australian supplier contact details are also required.
Do overseas GHS labels and SDS comply?
There are differences in classification requirements for some substances. Australian supplier contact details are also required.
What does a GHS label look like?
The GHS labels have a standardised format and look different to labels we currently have on chemical containers. See an example below of a GHS chemical label with the basic components.
What are GHS pictograms?
A key feature of the hazardous chemical labels are the hazard pictograms. There are nine pictograms. Some of the symbols are similar to the existing DG class diamonds. Below are the GHS pictograms with the type of hazard they represent.
What else is different?
If you exceed manifest quantities for dangerous goods, you will need a manifest which refers to quantities of hazardous chemicals, instead of DG’s.
Do I have to display GHS pictograms on buildings?
Some people have asked “Does Dangerous Goods (DG) Hazchem placarding on buildings need to be replaced with GHS pictograms?”
You must display the traditional DG diamonds on building placards, tanks and storage areas.
DG transport vehicles will also continue to use the DG diamonds, per the ADG Code
Do you have more questions or need help to comply?
Safety Action can help you with:
1. A FREE fact sheet about the Hazardous Chemicals Labels.
2. Training for your workers. See our training calendar to book into a public information session [Link to training calendar] or ask us about one-hour or two-hour workshops at your workplace in the GHS for classification and labelling.
3 A review of your chemical management system and practices.
4. Advice on transitioning to the GHS.
5. Upgrading your existing Material Safety Data Sheets to GHS compliant SDSs.
Call Safety Action on 03 9690 6311 or email for the fact sheet or more information about the above services.