In general, hazardous chemicals in the workplace must have a label that is complies with the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations. However, there are times where the label can be different to the requirements in the model WHS regulations.
WHS labelling requirements are not required for hazardous chemicals if they are a consumer product in its original packaging and are only used:
in household quantities
in a way that is consistent with consumer household use
in a way that is incidental to the work.
The Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP) regulates consumer products. Consumer products must comply with SUSMP labelling requirements.
If the hazardous chemical is a consumer product but is predominantly related to a work activity, then the label must meet WHS labelling requirements.
A 750 mL bottle of a toilet cleaner is intended for consumer household use and does not need to comply with WHS labelling requirements. It should comply with the SUSMP instead.
Due to the packaging size, a 20 L container of the same toilet cleaner would be intended for use in a workplace and not household setting. This will need to comply with WHS labelling requirements.
Agricultural and veterinary (AgVet) chemicals
AgVet chemicals are exempt from full WHS labelling requirements when they are:
registered with or used under permit from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), and
labelled in line with the Agricultural Labelling Code and the Veterinary Labelling Code.
Manufacturers and importers must include all relevant GHS hazard and precautionary statements when equivalent information is not already on the APVMA label and that they are not contrary to the information required by the APVMA.
Signal words and pictograms are not required on AgVet chemical labels.
The labelling requirements for agricultural and veterinary (AgVet) chemicals information sheets have more information.
Food and beverages products
Food and beverages packaged for consumption are exempt from WHS labelling requirements.
Labelling large or bulk quantities of food and beverages that are considered hazardous must meet WHS Regulations.
a 200 L container of flammable alcoholic spirits must have a WHS label
a 750 mL bottle of the same flammable alcoholic spirits does not need to meet WHS labelling requirements.
Therapeutic goods are correctly labelled under the model WHS Regulations if they are labelled in accordance with Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) requirements and they are in a form:
intended for human consumption
for intake or administration to or by a patient or consumer, or
intended for use for therapeutic purposes.
Otherwise WHS labelling must be used for therapeutic goods.
For example, if a pharmacist puts 1 kg of tablets in smaller containers to give to patients, the 1 kg container and the smaller containers must comply with TGA labelling requirements.
However, if you use a 1 kg container of the same tablets in powered form to make other products, you must label it in line with WHS labelling requirements.
Cosmetics and toiletries
Cosmetics and toiletries containing hazardous chemicals and are packaged for consumer use are exempt from WHS labelling requirements. This includes sample bottles of cosmetic products at retails stores and toiletries being used at a workplace. Labels for these products must comply with the SUSMP.
If the cosmetics or toiletries contains hazardous chemicals are not packaged for consumer use and are stored, handled or used in the workplace for other purposes, their labels must meet WHS labelling requirements.
cosmetics and toiletries in bulk quantities for repackaging
chemical intermediates and ingredients to make cosmetics and toiletries.
Chemicals stored in bulk
Bulk containers, i.e. those with a capacity over 500 litres or 500 kilograms, require placards that meet Schedule 13 to the model WHS Regulations. Bulk containers that require placarding do not require WHS labelling.
This exemption does not apply to intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) containing hazardous chemicals. IBCs that require a placard must also be labelled according to WHS labelling requirements.
The model WHS Regulations allow small containers to have less information on their labels.
There’s no defined size for small containers. However, exemptions apply for containers when their size prevents you including all the label elements in a way that is clear and easy to read. This may depend on the:
size of the container
number of hazard communication elements needed on the label
presence of information required other labelling schemes require, such as the Australian Dangerous Goods (ADG) Code, the Agricultural Chemicals Labelling Code and the Veterinary Labelling Code or the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP).
Labels for small containers must include as much of the hazardous communication elements as possible. You should prioritise information about the most significant hazards on the label.
WHS pictograms and label text should remain clear and easy to read.
There are no mandatory sizes for WHS labels and their elements, unless the label has ADG labelling elements.
If there are ADG labelling elements on the labels, then you will need to follow the minimum label element sizes set out by the ADG Code.
You do not need to label pipework in the same way as a hazardous chemical container.
Hazardous chemicals in pipework must be identified by a label, sign or some other way, on or near the pipework as is reasonably practicable. This should clearly communicate information about:
any necessary precautions.
You may use:
signs next to the pipework
markings on the pipework, for example colour coding (refer to AS 1345–1995)
schematic layouts on display in a prominent position