Consultation for GHS Under the Model WHS Laws Now Open

Safe Work Australia is now open to receiving feedback on the adoption of an updated edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), moving from GHS 3 to GHS 7.

The GHS is a United Nations (UN) led effort to provide a single global system for classifying chemicals and communication of hazards. Australia moved to the 3rd revision of the GHS on 1 January 2017.

Updating Australia’s compliance to the new GHS 7 revision ensures consistency with labelling and hazard control for dangerous chemicals to our key trading partners. The GHS system controls the labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals and Safety Data Sheets (SDS.)

The GHS is implemented in over 60 countries, including the European Union, United States of America, Canada, China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Thailand. The EU has already adopted GHS 7; the USA and Canada have indicated their transition will be complete through 2020-21. ASEAN region economies have also pledged to transition to GHS 7 in the near future.

The GHS update coincides with Safe Work Australia requesting feedback on the recommendations of the review of the model WHS laws, which commenced in 2018.

Key recommendations from the review sought to introduce regulations around mental health; new arrangements for health and safety representatives (HSRs) in small business; clarifying the role of HSRs and providing training; and providing a process for resolving disputes around WHS issues, among others.

The key changes in GHS 7 from GHS 3 are:

  • An additional hazard class for ‘desensitised explosives’
  • A new hazard category (Category 3) to classify non-flammable aerosols
  • Amendments to the classification criteria for flammable gases
  • Revisions to the definitions of some health hazard classes
  • Clarification to the Serious Eye Damage/Eye irritation Category 2
  • Updated precautionary statements to increase clarity in application
  • Greater flexibility in using precautionary statements provided they do not affect the safety message.

Safe Work Australia has introduced a series of consultation questions regarding the Australian transition to GHS 7.

Questions include timing of the adoption of GHS 7, the length of the transition period, tools Safe Work Australia can provide to ensure a successful transition and raising of any difficulties business or industry may have in the GHS 7 transition.

A full consultation paper is available at the Safe Work Australia website. [https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/media-centre/news/we-are-seeking-

Written submissions to the Model WHS laws and GHS are due by 5 August 2019. They can be made using the Engage platform. [https://engage.swa.gov.au/register]

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