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Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of classification and labelling of chemicals


The Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is a system of chemical classification and hazard communication introduced into Australia in 2017. This model replaces older systems used for classifying workplace chemicals and standardises information on labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

The GHS is a single internationally agreed system of chemical classification and hazard communication. For modifications to the requirements of the GHS, refer to Schedule 6 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) (WHS Regulations) or to learn more visit Safe Work Australia.

Exemption of suppliers in the supply chain

Exemptions from complying with Regulation 338 of the WHS Regulations were issued for suppliers of hazardous chemicals. This applies to hazardous chemicals that were either manufactured or imported before 1 January 2017.

Regulation 338 requires that a supplier of a hazardous chemical must not provide a dangerous chemical to another workplace if it doesn’t comply with GHS labelling requirements.

The exemption is 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)]. This exemption enables existing stock in the supply chain as of 1 January 2017 to be supplied, handled, stored and used.

GHS amendments to the WHS Regulations

The WHS Regulations have been updated 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 (PCBU) to use, store and handle hazardous chemicals labelled in accordance with the NOHSC Code of Practice if they were supplied before 1 January 2017
  • exempt Schedule 4 and 8 veterinary medicines from the GHS labelling requirements, as they are already the subject of restricted controls.

Information for manufacturers and importers

Since 31 December 2016, chemical manufacturers and importers have been responsible for ensuring all hazardous chemical labels and SDS are GHS compliant. This means re-labelling and replacing the SDS for any non-GHS labelled hazardous chemicals.

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

Information for suppliers

Exemptions were issued for suppliers of hazardous chemicals from complying with Regulation 338 of the WHS Regulations where the hazardous chemicals were manufactured or imported before 1 January 2017.

The exemption, subject to the condition that the hazardous chemicals are labelled in accordance with the NOHSC Code of Practice, enables existing stock in the supply chain as of 1 January 2017 to be supplied, handled, stored and used.

Hazardous chemicals that are manufactured or imported from 1 January 2017 can only be supplied if the hazardous chemical label and SDS is GHS compliant.

Information for end user workplaces

Any purchases made after 1 January 2017 are to be GHS compliant (both labels and SDS). Consider checking this before placing an order, especially for larger purchases.

Existing hazardous chemicals with NOHSC and AGD Code labels, kept past 31 December 2016, don’t need to be re-labelled.

Additional information

Safe Work Australia

Classification and labelling for workplace hazardous chemicals poster

Hazardous chemical information system

Comcare

Introducing the GHS (video)

Globally Harmonized System of classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS)

GHS/ADG quick guide and display

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

The GHS Third Edition