Chemical Safety in Schools manual

Chemical Safety in Schools manual: I have recently started working at a school where they are using the DET Chemical Safety In Schools manuals to assist in the running of the school lab. This system includes using coloured dots to indicate to teachers the safety and usage levels of particular chemicals, and lists detailed safety, usage, storage and disposal information. This document is quite extensive and thorough, however it was published in 1999, which means much of the information and legislation it is based on has been superseded (e.g., Hazardous Substance regulations). Most of the chemical data will have been revised and changed by more current SDS information.

I was wondering if you know if this document has been revised or reviewed, or are they planning on doing so? If DEC is NOT revising this document, should I continue to use the dot system from a legal standpoint? I find it to be a useful system for the teachers. However, if the information is outdated, it may actually present problems—a chemical may no longer be deemed safe by current classifications, but still get a "green dot" based on the CSIS manual.

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Publication Date: 03 August 2015
Asked By: meganmoppett
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Chemical Safety in Schools manual

Expert Answer

The NSW Department of Education’s Chemical Safety in Schools Package (CSIS) is available online (DEC intranet) to all staff in all government schools in NSW.  Whilst the CSIS package has been developed for use in NSW government schools, access is available to Independent and Catholic schools under a licence agreement. You are advised to contact the NSW Department of Education for further information regarding current access.

CSIS is a resource package to help schools meet their legislative requirements under the WHS Act and Regulations and provides up-to-date information on the safe use and handling of chemicals. The information in the online document supersedes some advice in previous versions. Whilst most of the online information is up to date, there are still some sections that are currently under review.  This revision was anticipated to be finalised by early 2016. There will not be any major changes to the range and usage advice for the chemicals in the CSIS package.

The coloured dot system has also been developed for use by government schools. It is a colour key to the user groups for a particular chemical. They act as a quick visual reference in the classroom and in storage areas.

The 1999 printed copy that you have access to has information that is not current, as it exceeds the 5-year period for SDSs, of which you are aware, but we see that your question relates more with whether the user code is still applicable.

If you do not have access to the online version of CSIS then we suggest the following options.

  1. Check the information from your version of the CSIS package against current SDS and conduct your own risk assessment giving consideration to staff training, student behaviour, the activity conducted and school facilities.
  2. Check the current information and user group to see if it is also included in the Science ASSIST Recommended list of chemicals for science in Australian schools and if you choose to, you can apply the coloured dots accordingly.


NSW Department of Education and Communities ‘Chemical Safety in Schools (CSIS)’ resource package. NSW DEC website DEC Intranet, login required.

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