Safe Work Australia have made a welcome announcement for businesses under WHS legislation that use hazardous chemicals. The new position is that it is okay to keep using, handling and storing hazardous chemicals labelled in accordance with a previous labelling code in your own workplace when the transition period for the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) for chemicals ends, if the product was supplied to you before 1 January 2017.
This is an important announcement since WHS Reg 341 states that a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure that a hazardous chemical used, handled or stored at the workplace is correctly labelled in accordance with regulation 335 (same duty as the manufacturer or supplier).
As part of the transition to the GHS, Safe Work Australia encourages end users of hazardous chemicals to:
- review their chemical inventory and dispose of chemicals which are out of date or no longer used, and
- talk to chemical suppliers to ensure GHS labelled stock is received from 1 January 2017.
There is no extended transition period for manufacturers, importers or suppliers of hazardous chemicals. If you are a manufacturer, importer or supplier of workplace hazardous chemicals, you do need to ensure that:
- chemicals supplied to your clients are classified according to the GHS;
- your SDS (safety data sheets) meet GHS requirements and
- products are correctly labelled per GHS requirements.