What is GHS?

The Globally Harmonised System (GHS) is a set of regulations for classifying dangerous goods into hazard categories and identifying the specific hazards relating to those chemicals on the labels and packaging.

While every country around the world requires Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and labelling to be based on this “harmonised” system, unfortunately this is where the Globally Harmonised System ceases to be harmonised. Each country can select which modules of the classification system to adopt and thus the application of the GHS differs from country to country.

The Change to GHS 7

Australia is currently operating under GHS version 3 which became mandatory on 1 January 2017. Since then, the global set of guidelines have been updated several times and Australia began its transition to GHS 7 on 1 January 2021. Australia is offering companies a 3-year transition period to transition from GHS 3 regulations to GHS 7 regulations. In this transition period products can be classified using either the GHS 3 guidelines or the GHS 7 guidelines. As of 1 January 2023 however, GHS 7 classifications will become mandatory, and all dangerous goods sold in Australia must be compliant with the new GHS 7 regulations.

Is it important to be GHS compliant?

Yes. It is a legal obligation for any supplier to have GHS compliant SDS’s available for their customers, and for the products on their shelves to have GHS compliant labelling. This includes SDSs and labels provided for products being sold in countries outside Australia.

If found to be importing goods that are not GHS compliant a company can face fines. These differ from country to country but any country has the right to penalise a company if they are found to be non-compliant with GHS regulations.

How to make sure you are GHS compliant.

Information about GHS and GHS compliance can be found on the Safe Work Australia Website listed below:

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/.

There are numerous companies around the country who can educate you and your staff on your obligations or run an assessment of your workplace. It is also important that you ensure your suppliers are GHS aware and compliant with Australian Regulations. It is also important to obtain a current SDS for each product that you own, manufacture and/or sell,  and that your customers can easily obtain a copy of it when required.

Emergency Information

Each SDS and label must contain an emergency phone number that people can contact if something happens while they are using the product. This phone number can be either a generic phone service offered by a company outside your own, or an emergency number for a contact within your organisation. The service must be available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Due to this fact, it is common for dangerous goods manufacturers to use external services. However, Please be aware that if you are using an external service for the emergency contact you must provide that service with the details of your product, along with a copy of the SDS, so they can give appropriate advice if anyone should call in relation to your product.