Guidance of the classification of hazardous chemicals under the WHS regulations

Public health Australia

This report provide for manufacturers and importers of substances, mixtures and articles who have a duty under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and Regulations to classify them.

It may also be useful for suppliers, persons undertaking business and undertakings, workers and other persons involved with hazardous chemicals.

The document provides information and guidance on:

  • the transitional arrangements for implementation of the GHS under the WHS Regulations, including when classifications, labels and safety data sheets need to be revised
  • how to translate existing classifications for hazardous substances and dangerous goods to meet GHS requirements
  • the requirements in the WHS Regulations that apply to the classification of specific types of hazardous chemicals, for example articles containing hazardous chemicals.

Under the WHS Regulations, a manufacturer or importer of substances, mixtures and articles has a duty to determine whether they are hazardous to the health and safety of persons, before they are supplied for workplace use.

The classification of a substance, mixture or article reflects the type and severity of the hazards of that substance, mixture or article, i.e. its potential to cause harm to human beings or the environment. The classification of chemicals also determines:

  • what information is required on labels and safety data sheets
  • whether certain provisions in work health and safety laws apply to their handling, use and storage in the workplace.

The WHS Regulations implement a new system of hazard classification criteria for chemicals used in the workplace based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (the GHS).1 The WHS Regulations also implement the harmonised hazard communication elements of the GHS that are to appear on labels and safety data sheets (SDS).

Key terms and definitions used in this Guide are included in Appendix A.

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