Responsibilities for labelling hazardous chemicals

Businesses at each stage of the supply chain have duties to label hazardous chemicals. If you make or import chemicals, you must make clear labels with certain information on them. 

Manufacturers and importers 

If you manufacture or import hazardous chemicals, you must label them correctly in accordance to the model WHS regulations and the 3rd or 7th revised edition of the Globally Harmonized System for Labelling and Classifying Chemicals (GHS).  

Transitioning from GHS 3 to GHS 7

Australia started a transition from the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) 3 to GHS 7 on 1 January 2021. This affected all businesses that manufacture, import, supply or use hazardous chemicals. The transition period will end on 31 December 2022, and from 1 January 2023, only GHS 7 may be used to classify and label chemicals in Australia. You can find more information on our Transition to GHS 7 page.

This duty also applies to you if you repackage or re-label hazardous chemicals with your own name, or if your hazardous chemical is imported from overseas. 

Suppliers 

If you supply hazardous chemicals, you must not supply a hazardous chemical to a workplace if you know, or should reasonably know, that the chemical is not correctly labelled. 

Users of hazardous chemicals 

As a PCBU, if you use hazardous chemicals, you must ensure chemicals have a correct label in accordance with the GHS and model WHS Regulations. This includes: 

  • hazardous chemicals that are stored in pipework 

  • hazardous chemicals that are transferred or decanted at the workplace from the original container that the chemical is stored in.  

If the hazardous chemical is not labelled correctly, you should not accept it from the supplier.  

This duty does not apply if the hazardous chemical is: 

  • a consumer product that retains its original label and is to be only used in household quantities in a way that is incidental to the nature of the work, 

  • in transit, or  

  • used immediately after being put into a container and the container thoroughly cleaned after the chemical has been used, handled or stored so that the container is in the condition it would be in if it had never contained the hazardous chemical.  

Reviewing labels 

You should review labels if you are manufacturer, importer or supplier of hazardous chemicals. 

Labels should be reviewed at regular intervals to keep them current. Labels should also be reviewed with Safety Data Sheets, which must be reviewed at least every 5 years.  

Labels should also be reviewed when: 

  • there is a change in formulation or ingredients which may change the chemical’s hazardous properties 

  • new information on the hazards of the product or its ingredients become available 

  • the classification of the hazardous chemical changes. 

The hazardous chemical classification will tell you what to put on the label. Australia uses the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for the classification information for labels. 

Approving labels 

WHS regulators do not need to approve labels for hazardous chemicals. However, they can review labels to make sure they are compliant with the model WHS laws and the GHS.

Supporting information