Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals will be in place on January 1st in 2017, manufacturers and suppliers of chemicals in Australia and across the world will be legally required to adopt and comply with a universal system of classifying their product(s) as well as their chemical labels and safety data sheets. While it has been implemented here since 2012, the GHS system will become compulsory after December 31st 2016. So the question must be asked – are you GHS ready?
GHS stands for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. The goal of this system is that the same set of rules for classifying hazards – and the same format and content for labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) – will be adopted and used consistently in Australia and around the world.
The GHS is a system used to classify and communicate chemical hazards using internationally consistent terms and information on chemical labels and Safety Data Sheets.
The GHS provides criteria for the classification of physical hazards (e.g. flammable liquids), health hazards (e.g. carcinogens) and environmental hazards (e.g. aquatic toxicity).
Australia has adopted the 3rd revised edition of the GHS under the model work health and safety laws. A copy of this edition can be downloaded from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe website.
In Australia, the GHS is supported by:
- the model Code of Practice for Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals, and
- the model Code of Practice for the Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals.
Who will be impacted?
The Work Health and Safety Regulations impose a duty on manufacturers and importers of chemicals supplied to a workplace to determine if a chemical is hazardous, and to correctly classify the chemical according to the GHS (3rd Revised Edition 2009).
Even workplaces in states that have not adopted the model WHS legislation will still be affected by the introduction of the GHS. Commonwealth persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) will need to ensure that all hazardous chemical labels and SDS are in the new GHS format by 1 January 2017.