Safe Work Australia Delays Transition to 7th Edition of GHS

In June 2020, Safe Work Australia announced the decision to delay the start of the transition to the seventh edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This was due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, particularly on the Australian business sector. In this blog post, we take a look at this postponement and the circumstances surrounding it.

About GHS

The GHS is an internationally recognized means for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals. It 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

Governments, institutions, and international organizations are key audiences for the GHS. Industry professionals are also highly impacted, as many will ultimately be fulfilling its requirements.

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

Postponing the Start of the Transition

The COVID-19 pandemic is yielding a substantial and increasing impact on business throughout the world. To better adapt to what is seemingly becoming the “new normal”, governments, business sectors, and all areas of industry are making necessary adjustments. In Australia, a key example of this has been the recent decision to postpone the start of its transition to the seventh edition of the GHS (GHS 7).

Originally set for July 1, 2020, the start date of the two-year transitional period to GHS 7 was changed to January 1, 2021. This transitional period is designed to provide chemical importers and manufacturers with sufficient time to engage in preparatory efforts. Among other things, these include the development of new labels, classifications, and safety data sheets.

Realizing that some companies may have already initiated GHS 7 implementation, the Australian government will allow classification and labeling for GHS 7 to start in July of this year. Also, most companies will still be able to provide and use hazardous chemicals classified and labeled under GHS 3 during the period of transition.

Staying Up To Date

To stay up to date on Australia's process of transition to GHS 7, and to access important relevant guidance information for businesses as it becomes available, visit the Safe Work Australia website. Additionally, you can visit the ToxPlanet website and blog regularly for information on new developments. Also, be sure to contact us and register for a Free Trial to learn how our powerful suite of solutions can help address your chemical hazard information needs.