Australia is transitioning to the 7th Revised Edition of the GHS (GHS 7), which includes some changes to hazardous chemical classifications and precautionary statements.
Why are we transitioning?
Moving to GHS 7 in Australia will:
match our key trading partners, who are also moving to GHS 7
make sure classifications, labels and SDS use the more up-to-date classifications and hazard communication.
During the transition
The two-year transition to GHS 7 began on 1 January 2021 and will finish on 31 December 2022, giving manufacturers and importers time to implement the updated system.
Manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals
If you manufacture or import hazardous chemicals, you can currently use either GHS 3 or GHS 7 to make labels and SDS for hazardous chemicals.
You are also considered to be a manufacturer or importer of hazardous chemicals if you repackage or re-label hazardous chemicals products with your product name.
Suppliers of hazardous chemicals
If you supply hazardous chemicals, you can continue to supply chemicals that are classified and labelled under either GHS 3 or GHS 7.
Users of hazardous chemicals
You can continue to use chemicals that are classified and labelled under either GHS 3 or GHS 7, provided the chemical is manufactured or imported before 1 January 2023.
After the transition
From 1 January 2023, only GHS 7 can be used to classify and label chemicals in Australia.
Manufactures and importers of hazardous chemicals
If you are a manufacturer or importer of hazardous chemicals, you must only use GHS 7 to label and make SDS from 1 January 2023.
You do not have to re-label or dispose of any existing products. However, the SDS should comply with GHS 7 from 1 January 2023 even if the label doesn’t.
You are also considered to be a manufacturer or importer of hazardous chemicals if you repackage or re-label hazardous chemicals products with your product name,
Suppliers of hazardous chemicals
If you are a supplier of hazardous chemicals, you should only accept stock which is classified, labelled and has a SDS prepared under GHS 7 from 1 January 2023.
You must not supply stock if it’s not classified and labelled under GHS 7.
Users of hazardous chemicals
If you use hazardous chemicals, you should only accept new stock that is manufactured, classified and labelled under GHS 7 if they are manufactured or imported after 1 January 2023.
If the hazardous chemical is manufactured or imported before 1 January 2023, the product can be classified and labelled with either GHS 3 or GHS 7. This is the case even if you receive the product after 1 January 2023.
SDS should be compliant with GHS 7 from 1 January 2023 even if the label doesn’t.
Progress on the GHS 7 transition in each jurisdiction
Each state and territory and the Commonwealth is adopting GHS 7 in their WHS laws. Updates to some states and territories laws are still in progress.
The following jurisdictions have updated their Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations to allow for the 2 year transition to GHS 7 from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2022. From 1 January 2023, only GHS 7 may be used to classify, label and prepare SDS for hazardous chemicals that are manufactured or imported after this date in these jurisdictions.
Commonwealth: The Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 has been updated.
New South Wales: The New South Wales Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 has been updated.
Northern Territory: The Northern Territory Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 2011 has been updated.
South Australia: The South Australian Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 has been updated.
Victoria: The Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 and the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 has been updated.
The following states and territories are yet to amend their WHS Regulations:
Australian Capital Territory: The Australian Capital Territory Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 has not yet been updated to implement the transition to GHS 7.
Queensland: Amendments to the Queensland Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 will be implemented in 2021.
Tasmania: The Tasmanian Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 has been updated.
Western Australia: Western Australia is currently progressing new WHS Regulations through parliament. GHS 7 will be considered in the updated Regulations.
This information was last updated on 17 January 2022.
Changes under GHS 7
The ‘flammable aerosols’ hazard class is now called ‘aerosols'.
Category 3 is a new hazard category for non-flammable aerosols.
Classification and labelling for Categories 1 and 2 aerosols (‘flammable aerosols’ under GHS 3) have not changed.
Flammable, pyrophoric and chemically unstable gases
Flammable Gas Category 1 is now split into Flammable Gas Category 1A and Flammable Gas Category 1B.
Flammable Gas Category 2 has not changed and is not used in Australia.
There are 3 new flammable gas categories under Flammable Gas Category 1A:
Pyrophoric Gas – a flammable gas that is liable to ignite spontaneously in air at a temperature of 54°C or below.
Chemically Unstable Gas A and Chemically Unstable Gas B – a flammable gas able to react explosively in the absence air or oxygen.
GHS 7 has a new hazard class for desensitised explosives.
Desensitised explosives are solid or liquid explosive substances or mixtures which have had a substance added to make it safer to handle and transport.
Desensitised explosive substances or mixtures can be:
diluted or wetted with water, alcohols, or other substances to form a homogenous solid mixture
dissolved or suspended in water or other liquids substances to form a homogenous liquid mixture.
The definition of ‘hazardous chemicals’ in the model Work Health and Safety laws has been updated to include both Category 2A and Category 2B eye irritants.
Using Category 2A or 2B subcategories is optional in Australia. For example, you can class Category 2B eye irritants as either Category 2 or Category 2B eye irritants.
Changes to using precautionary statements
Under GHS 7 many precautionary statements are now easier to read.
You can also now combine precautionary statements and change the wording if it doesn’t change the safety message of the statements.
If you manufacture or import hazardous chemicals, you will need to check the precautionary statements for your products and:
update labels and SDS if the safety information or the chemical’s classification changed
add new precautionary statements to labels and SDS before 31 December 2022.
Updated precautionary statements used in GHS 7 can be found in:
the GHS 7th Revised Edition, which can be found on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe website
Where to get more information
If you have questions or want to know more about changes under the GHS 7, contact your WHS regulator.
If you manufacture or import hazardous chemicals, the GHS 7 information sheet for manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals has more information.
You can also watch the Transition to GHS 7 webinar to learn more about the GHS 7 and what it means for chemical classification, labelling and safety data sheets.