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Australia to adopt Revision 7 of the GHS

Flammable and non-flammable barrels

January 24, 2020

It was announced on Friday 10th of January 2020, that Australia has decided to move to the 7th Revision of the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). This will be adopted under the Model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws for workplace hazardous chemicals from 1st July 2020.

Australia will adopt GHS Revision 7 with a 2 year transition period. This will allow time for manufacturers and importers to produce new Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and labels. However, it should be noted that suppliers and users will be allowed to continue using chemicals with GHS Revision 3 SDS and labels until their stocks run out, as decided by the Safe Work Australia Members. The Safe Work Australia Members are a committee of 15 people and is made up of members from the states and territories, as well as representatives for workers and employers.

Safe Work Australia held face to face consultation sessions as well as online public consultations in June and July 2019. With these consultations all respondents supported moving from GHS Revision 3 to Revision 7. This will help ensure Australia stays in line with its major trading partners.

One of the issues that has been raised which will be changed in the adoption of GHS Revision 7, is the treatment of subcategory 2B eye irritation. Currently, Australia has adopted 2A eye irritation, but chose not to adopt 2B. This has lead to confusion in the industry, with chemicals classified as 2B eye irritation not being classified as hazardous. This was not the intent of the regulation, and it will be changed to use the Cat 2 eye irritation, with Category 2A/2B being optional.

Ingredient proportions on labels has been a unique Australian requirement, and during the consultation period it was discussed removing this requirement. While industry supported removing the requirement the WHS regulators did not support this. As such it is likely that Australia will maintain this requirement.

Please note that New Zealand is also preparing to move to Revision 7 and it is widely understood that the United States and Canada will do so as well. The European Union has already moved to Revision 7.

Recommended Action Items:

  • Register with Safe Work Australia to receive updates on the GHS Revision 7 adoption in Australia
  • For manufacturers and importers: Once the Revision 7 guidelines for Australia are released, determine what changes will need to be made to SDS and labels. Ensure that these changes are completed by 30th June 2022.
  • For suppliers and users: Be aware that product labels and SDS may have some small changes with the transition to GHS Revision 7.

GHS Compliance Training

GHS Essentials is a two-day training course which covers the history of the GHS and its resultant harmonized classification criteria, and labeling and SDS requirements.

You will learn the requirements for the harmonized documents of hazard communication (i.e. labeling and safety data sheets) along with the status of GHS implementation around the world.

This course is designed to provide experienced hazard communication professionals with all of the salient information and expert insights on the Globally Harmonized System.

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