Implementation of a new system of classifying and labelling workplace chemicals which was due to start on July 1, 2020 has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Safe Work Australia said a two-year transitional period was due to start this month for the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) Revision 7.

The new start date for the transitional period is January 1, 2021. A full two-year transitional period will follow from this date.

Safe Work Australia has been working to implement the revisions to workplace hazardous chemicals under the Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Laws since late 2019.

However, Safe Work Australia members agreed to delay the start of the transitional period due to the impact of COVID-19 on Australian businesses.

“To ensure that any importers and manufacturers that had already begun work on implementing GHS 7 are not disadvantaged, state and territory governments will put in place regulatory arrangements allowing businesses to start classifying and labelling chemicals in accordance with GHS 7 from July 1, 2020,” Safe Work Australia said in a statement.

“Suppliers and end users will also be able to supply and use GHS 7 labelled chemicals under these arrangements. Details of the regulatory arrangements will be published on our website when they become available.”

The biggest change to the GHS is the introduction of a new category known as 1B. It is similar to the 2L classification in ISO 817 and is used to determine if a refrigerant is flammable or not.

Under the new Hazard Statement 18 gases are now listed as flammable instead of extremely flammable.

For example, R32 and R1234yf are listed as flammable but hydrocarbons such as propane and isobutane are still listed as extremely flammable.

Guidance to support businesses to transition to GHS 7 will also be published on the Safe Work Australia website soon.  



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