On 9 December 2022, Safe Work Australia issued a reminder to stakeholders that the country’s transition period to the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS 7:2017) would end on 31 December 2022. This means that, from 1 January 2023, companies in Australia will have to classify newly manufactured or imported hazardous substances under GHS 7 and create labels and safety data sheets (SDSs). SDSs for existing chemicals must also comply with GHS 7 from 1 January 2023.
Since 1 January 2017, Australia has used the GHS Revised Third Edition (GHS 3) to classify and label its hazardous chemicals. However, to transition to GHS 7, a two-year transition period was introduced from 1 January 2021, giving manufacturers and importers time to smoothly transition to the new system. The implications of the transition to GHS 7 for manufacturers, importers, suppliers and users of hazardous chemicals are as follows:
Manufacturers and Importers of Hazardous Chemicals
Manufacturers or importers of hazardous chemicals will only be able to use GHS 7 to create labelling and SDSs after January 1, 2023. However, there is no need to re-label or discard existing products. However, SDSs only will be required to comply with GHS 7 from January 1, 2023. An entity that repackages or relabels a hazardous chemical is also deemed to be a manufacturer or importer of hazardous chemicals.
Suppliers of hazardous chemicals
From 1 January 2023, suppliers of hazardous chemicals will only be able to deliver inventory items that have been classified, labeled and had an SDS created under GHS 7. Inventories manufactured or imported after 1 January 2023 that are not classified and labelled under GHS 7 cannot be delivered. On the other hand, if the hazardous chemicals were manufactured or imported before January 1, 2023, the products can be classified and labelled as either GHS 3 or GHS 7.
Users of Hazardous Chemicals
If a person using hazardous chemicals purchases a product manufactured or imported after 1 January 2023, they may only purchase new products manufactured, classified or labelled in accordance with GHS 7. If a product manufactured or imported before 1 January 2023 is purchased after 1 January 2023, the product may be classified or labelled as either GHS 3 or GHS 7. However, SDSs only must be GHS 7 compliant from 1 January 2023.
Safe Work Australia press release: