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COVID-19 delays Globally Harmonised System of Classification

Australia’s transition to the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals Revision 7 for workplace hazardous chemicals has been delayed, with the proposed two-year transition period now starting on 1 January 2021.

The Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals is a global method of classifying chemicals and preparing labels and safety data sheets. The purpose of the system is to give consistency and clear information about hazardous chemicals so as to protect health and safety.

The 3rd revised edition of the system (Revision 3) was implemented in Australia on 1 January 2012 and is required to be used for developing labels and safety data sheets for workplace hazardous chemicals in all Australian states and territories.

The transitional period was due to start on 1 July 2020. However, Safe Work Australia recently announced an agreed delay to the transitional period due to the impact of COVID-19 on Australian businesses.

Safe Work Australia provided that to ensure that any importers and manufacturers that had already begun work on implementing the updated classifications under Revision 7 are not disadvantaged, state and territory governments would put in place arrangements allowing businesses to classify and label chemicals in accordance with Revision 7 from 1 July 2020. Suppliers and end users will also be able to supply and use Revision 7-labelled chemicals under these arrangements. And because of the change in transition date, suppliers and end users can also supply and use the earlier Revision 3-labelled chemicals during this period.

There is also now available from Safe Work Australia guidance material for businesses on Revision 7, including information about classification and labelling requirements as well as the duties of manufacturers, importers, suppliers and end users.

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