Legislation concerning the labelling of chemicals states the minimum requirement.
All hazardous chemicals supplied to workplaces on or after the 1st January 2017 are required to comply with GHS labelling in those jurisdictions that have adopted the GHS1. There is no legal obligation to re-label stock chemicals purchased prior to this date2.
Diluted solutions of chemicals
There are minimum labelling elements required when labelling decanted chemicals with the objective to include as much information as is reasonably practicable. The legislation is not prescriptive to the school situation regarding diluted solutions, so this needs to be interpreted for the school setting. Schools should consult their jurisdiction for labelling guidance.
For an overview of labelling requirements, see our information sheet: AIS: Labels for school science chemicals.
Science ASSIST recommends that best practice should be followed such that chemical labels in schools for both stock chemicals and diluted solutions:
- provide as much information as possible regarding the hazards and safe use of the chemical to ensure its safe use. This will help to control risks in the workplace. In a school setting, where stock chemicals are not replaced frequently, it is important that the labels contain up to date information regarding the hazards.
- be reviewed when the SDS is updated (every 5 years) as hazard classifications may change.
- are compliant with the GHS, in those jurisdictions that have adopted the GHS. The label should be consistent with information in the manufacturer specific SDS. Schools are to utilise resources provided by their school sector to assist in GHS compliant label preparation.
Schools in areas that have not adopted the GHS legislation should check with their jurisdiction for labelling guidance.
In keeping with good laboratory practice non-hazardous chemicals should also be labelled with the chemical name, concentration of constituents and the words Laboratory Reagent.
Labelling chemical solutions
Labelling a chemical solution is an important part of workplace safety as it identifies the constituents their concentrations and any hazards and precautions required for its safe use. The hazardous properties of chemicals often change according to concentration as they are diluted and this should be reflected on the label. In a school situation there is a need to pass this information on to teachers and students.
GHS labelling applies to hazardous chemicals under the WHS regulations1. Labels should comply with legislation required for hazardous chemicals and suit the size of the container.
The model Work Health and Safety Laws, Regulations and Codes of Practice have referenced in them the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Safe Work Australia has produced a code of practice for the labelling of chemicals under the GHS, see:http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/about/publications/pages/labelling-hazardous-chemicals-cop. This Code of Practice has been endorsed by jurisdictions in Australia which have adopted the GHS, namely, NSW, NT, Qld, SA and TAS.
According to the Code of Practice for labelling decanted or transferred hazardous chemicals, there is a minimum requirement to include:
- "the product identifier (name of the chemical), and
- a hazard pictogram or hazard statement consistent with the correct classification of the chemical." (p14)3
The guidance material for small containers in the Code of Practice supports the inclusion of any other information that is reasonably practicable to include, to convey the relevant hazards.
“You should always aim to provide as much information on the hazards and safe use of the chemical on the label as possible” (p12)3, and that
“In addition to the mandatory items mentioned above, labels for small containers or packages must include as much labelling information required for hazardous chemical labels in general that is reasonably practicable to include. Priority should be given to those labelling elements relating to the most significant hazards of the hazardous chemical.”(p13)3
1 'Labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals'. Safe Work Australia Website. http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/whs-information/hazardous-chemicals/labelling/pages/labelling (Accessed November 2016)
2 'Frequently asked questions GHS' Safe Work Australia Website. http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/whs-information/hazardous-chemicals/faqs/pages/faqs (Accessed November 2016)
3 Safe Work Australia. 2015. Labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals code of practice. Safe Work Australia Website. http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documen...
'GHS What you need to know' SafeWork NSW website. http://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/55539/SW08028... (Updated January 2018)
'Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of classification and labelling of chemicals Information sheet.' Safe Work Australia Website. http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/966/GHS-Information-sheet-23052016.pdf