Australia has completed the transition to GHS 7

Adoption of GHS 7

Since 1 January 2023, the 7th revised edition of the GHS (GHS 7) must be used to classify and label hazardous chemicals in Australia.

During 2021 and 2022, Australia transitioned from using the 3rd revised edition of the GHS (GHS 3) to GHS 7.

Using GHS 7 helps Australia:

  • align with our key trading partners, who also use GHS 7
  • ensure labels and SDS use up-to-date classifications and hazard communication.

Implementing GHS 7

Manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals

A manufacturer or importer of hazardous chemicals, must only use GHS 7 to classify, label and make SDS from 1 January 2023.

Manufacturers and importers do not have to re-label or dispose of any existing products that use GHS 3. However, the SDS must comply with GHS 7 even if the label doesn’t. Manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals must update the SDS as necessary to ensure it contains correct and current information.

You are considered a manufacturer or importer of hazardous chemicals if you re-package or re-label hazardous chemicals products with your product name.

More information for manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals can be found in the GHS 7 information sheet for manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals.

Suppliers of hazardous chemicals

Suppliers must ensure that any hazardous chemicals manufactured or imported on or after 1 January 2023 supplied to a workplace are labelled in accordance with GHS 7.

Suppliers can continue to supply hazardous chemicals which were manufactured or imported before 1 January 2023 and were labelled in accordance with GHS 3 at the time they were manufactured or imported.

Where the manufacturer or importer updates the SDS for GHS 3 labelled stock to reflect the hazard classifications in GHS 7 (or for any other reason), the updated SDS must be provided with any stock supplied to a workplace after the update.

More information for suppliers of hazardous chemicals can be found in the GHS 7 information sheet for suppliers and users of hazardous chemicals.

Users of hazardous chemicals

If you use hazardous chemicals in your workplace, you must ensure that any  stock you accept that is manufactured or imported on or after 1 January 2023 is  labelled and has an SDS prepared  in accordance with GHS 7.

If the hazardous chemical was manufactured or imported before 1 January 2023, the product can be classified and labelled with either GHS 3 or GHS 7. This is the case even if you receive the product on or after 1 January 2023.

However, SDS kept at the workplace must be compliant with GHS 7 from 1 January 2023 even if the label isn’t. If you have a hazardous chemical for which the hazard classifications have changed with GHS 7, you must obtain an updated SDS prepared using GHS 7 from the manufacturer, importer or supplier of the hazardous chemical when:

  • the hazardous chemical is first supplied to your workplace after the SDS is updated, or
  • as soon as practicable following the first supply of the hazardous chemical after the SDS is updated but before the hazardous chemical is used at the workplace.

More information for users of hazardous chemicals can be found in the GHS 7 information sheet for suppliers and users of hazardous chemicals.

Jurisdictional arrangements for GHS 7

Each state and territory and the Commonwealth have adopted GHS 7 in their WHS laws.

Changes under GHS 7

Further information on the changes under GHS 7 can be found in the Changes to chemical classifications and labelling under GHS 7 factsheet.

Aerosols

The ‘flammable aerosols’ hazard class is now called ‘aerosols’.

Category 3 aerosols is a new hazard category for non-flammable aerosols.

Classification and labelling for categories 1 and 2 aerosols (‘flammable aerosols’ under GHS 3) have not changed.

Flammable, pyrophoric and chemically unstable gases

Flammable gas category 1 is now split into flammable gas category 1A and flammable gas category 1B.

Flammable gas category 2 has not changed and is not used in Australia.

There are 3 new flammable gas subcategories under flammable gas category 1A:

  • pyrophoric gas – a flammable gas that is liable to ignite spontaneously in air at a temperature of 54°C or below.
  • chemically unstable gas A– a flammable gas able to react explosively in the absence of air or oxygen at 20°C and standard pressure of 101.3 kPa.
  • chemically unstable gas B – a flammable gas able to react explosively in the absence of air or oxygen at a temperature greater than 20°C or a pressure greater than 101.3 kPa.

Desensitised explosives

GHS 7 also introduced a new hazard class for desensitised explosives.

Desensitised explosives are solid or liquid explosive substances or mixtures that have had a substance added to make it safer to handle and transport.

Desensitised explosive substances or mixtures can be:

  • diluted or wetted with water, alcohols, or other substances to form a homogenous solid mixture, or
  • dissolved or suspended in water or other liquids substances to form a homogenous liquid mixture.

Eye irritation

The definition of ‘hazardous chemicals’ in the model Work Health and Safety Regulations has been updated to include all category 2 eye irritants, including both category 2A and category 2B .

Classifying category 2 eye irritants further into category 2A or 2B is optional in Australia. For example, you can class category 2B eye irritants as either category 2 or category 2B eye irritants.

Changes to using precautionary statements

Under GHS 7 many precautionary statements are now easier to read.

You can also now combine precautionary statements and change the wording if it doesn’t change the safety message of the statements.

If you manufacture or import hazardous chemicals, you will need to check the precautionary statements for your products and:

  • update labels and SDS if the safety information or the chemical’s classification has changed
  • add any new precautionary statements to labels and SDS.

Updated precautionary statements used in GHS 7 can be found in:

Where to get more information

If you have questions or want to know more about changes under the GHS 7, contact your WHS regulator.

You can also watch the Transition to GHS 7 webinar to learn more about the GHS 7 and what it means for chemical classification, labelling and SDS.

Supporting information

Further Advice

SWA is not a regulator and cannot advise you about WHS issues in the workplace. If you need help please contact your state or territory work health and safety authority.

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