What do you need to know about the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals?

What is the GHS?

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 system was developed by the United Nations with the intention of harmonising the many different chemical classification systems in use around the world.

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).

What is happening with the GHS in Western Australia?

At this stage Western Australia has not mandated the use of the GHS, however, if businesses export/supply to other States or Territories within Australia that implemented the GHS on 1 January 2017, need to be GHS compliant.

 

For more information visit Worksafe WA

Does the GHS replace the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code) for dangerous goods transport?

No, it doesn’t. When transporting dangerous goods, it is a requirement to comply with the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code). You must continue to comply with the ADG Code and relevant State and Territory dangerous goods transport laws for road and rail.

What is required if importing and supplying chemicals to other States?

If you are a chemical manufacturer, importer or supplier in Western Australia and supply chemicals to other States and Territories in Australia that have implemented the GHS on 1 January 2017, you will need to ensure that hazardous chemicals imported or manufactured after the 31 December 2016 are GHS compliant.

Some importers have been receiving GHS labelled goods from GHS compliant countries for some time. If this is the case you may only need to check the classification and label and supply a GHS compliant SDS.

If you are a chemical manufacturer, importer or supplier in Western Australia and you do not supply chemicals to other States or Territories using the GHS, use of the GHS is not mandatory.

It is still a requirement to transport dangerous goods in compliance with the ADG Code.

Further information

For more information on the GHS and systems of labelling for workplace chemicals, see Safe Work Australia or Worksafe WA:

Safe Work has a dedicated section on GHS Frequently asked questions

For further information on Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code) requirements, visit the National Transport Commission (NTC) website