Workplace chemicals and the GHS

Workplace chemicals and the GHS

Workplace chemicals and the GHS

The GHS comes into force in Australia on 1 Jan 2017……….is your business ready ?

What is the Globally Harmonised System of Classification (GHS)?

  • It is a comprehensive system that aims to globally harmonise chemical hazard classification and information
  • It classifies a chemical hazard according to its physical, health or environmental impact
  • It communicates chemical hazard information through labels and safety data sheets (SDS)

The GHS was developed by the United Nations (UN) as a non-binding framework which member countries could adopt into their chemical management regulations through legislation. The GHS is continually reviewed and updated by a UN expert sub-committee.  Australia will be adopting Revision 3 of the GHS and will catch-up with subsequent revisions over time.

Chemical Risk Assessment Form

How does the GHS  work?

The manufacturer or importer has a duty to determine whether a workplace chemical is hazardous and to correctly classify the chemical. If a chemical meets the criteria of the GHS for one or more classes, it is then classified as a hazardous chemical.

The GHS also involves new mandatory requirements for chemical labels and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) format and content.

What is a Hazardous Chemical?

A hazardous chemical is a chemical that has the potential to harm human health through workplace exposure or to cause damage to people or property.

  • Physical hazards             eg: flammable liquids and gases, oxidisers, corrosives and explosives.
  • Health hazards                eg: acute toxicity, carcinogenicity.
  • Environmental hazards eg:  toxic to aquatic life, damaging to the ozone layer.


Hazardous Chemical / DG Register

What should business owners (PCBU’s) do to prepare for the GHS?

Well before the compliance date PCBU’s should:

  1. Identify deadlines – the GHS comes into effect as from 1 January 2017
  2. Develop an implementation schedule suitable for the needs of the workplace
  3. Review current holdings for GHS compliant and noncompliant chemical stock
  4. Allow holdings of GHS non-compliant chemical stock to run down
  5. Review Safety Data Sheets (SDS) to ensure hazard management practices are in place
  6. Ensure workers are aware of the new chemical labelling system and SDS
  7. Review and update existing chemical records and Risk Assessments
  8. Ensure all new chemical purchases and SDS are GHS compliant.

Working with Hazardous Chemicals SWMS

PCBU Duties

All PCBU’s must ensure that a hazardous chemical which is used, handled or stored at the workplace is correctly labelled. If a hazardous chemical is manufactured at the workplace or transferred from its original container the PCBU must ensure the container is correctly labelled. All PCBU’s must obtain the correct SDS for a hazardous chemical. If the SDS is amended, the PCBU must ensure they get a copy of the amended safety data sheet as soon as practicable.

For more information visit:

Safety Makers has a range of chemical management policies, procedures, tools and forms available. Enquiries:     or visit:


Hazardous Chemical DG Register - Key

By | 2017-08-16T16:24:50+10:00 September 19th, 2016|Legislation, News, Risk Management, Uncategorized|0 Comments