Australia Plans for Adoption of GHS 7

During the month of July 2019, Safe Work Australia sought feedback and consultation on the prospect of adopting the seventh revision of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Here we review this system and take a brief look at its history in Australia.

About GHS

The GHS is an internationally recognized system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labelling of chemicals. The system represents a detailed approach to:

  • communicating hazard information and protective recommendations (e.g., safety data sheets (SDS))
  • defining various types of chemical hazards
  • developing classification processes that offer comparisons with established hazard criteria

Many governments, institutions, and international organizations are key audiences for the GHS. A variety of industry professionals are also highly impacted, as many will ultimately be responsible for fulfilling its requirements.

To date, more than 70 countries throughout the world have adopted the GHS or are in the process of doing so.

GHS in Australia

The GHS was first introduced in Australia on January 1, 2012. Following a five-year transition period, the third revision of GHS (GHS 3) was officially adopted on January 1, 2017. This corresponded with the adoption of Work Health Safety (WHS) laws as prepared by Safe Work Australia (SWA), the Government statutory group responsible for improving work health and safety and workers’ compensation, and for developing related national policy.

A few initial exceptions to adoption existed:

  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT): WHS laws were adopted in 2018.
  • Victoria: The third, fourth, or fifth revisions of GHS may be accepted for use, but not a combination of them.
  • Western Australia: GHS is considered accepted, but not adopted.

Prospects for Australian adoption of GHS in its seventh revision are being considered by SWA for several reasons. A principal point of consideration is that it is believed it will yield closer alignment with trading partners.

Staying Up to Date

Designed to enable increased protection of human health and the environment via the providing of harmonized information to chemical users, the GHS represents an extremely important framework for the classification and labelling of hazardous substances.

To stay up to date on GHS implementation efforts, their progress, and their outcomes in various countries, be sure to visit the ToxPlanet website and blog regularly for information on new developments. Also, be sure to contact us and register for a Free Trial of our powerful decision support solutions.