Chemical Labels

Chemical Labels: How do I know if the chemical labels that I have been using are compliant? 

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Publication Date: 26 April 2018
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Chemical Labels

Your labels should comply with the requirements of your state/territory WHS Regulator (i.e., SafeWork Australia). The GHS is either mandatory or acceptable throughout all Australian states and territories1 (see below for links).


Science ASSIST provides guidance on the requirements in line with the labelling chemicals information provided on the Safe Work Australia website (See: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/labelling#overview). We produced an information sheet in 2014 called AIS: Labels for school science chemicals, which is based upon the model Code of Practice Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice.


[Note: A Code of Practice is a practical guide on how to comply with the legal duties under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and Regulations.2 You can check with your WHS Regulator to see if a particular model Code of Practice has been implemented in your jurisdiction.]


Our information sheet sets out the information that is required on full labels as well as the minimum requirements, with references to small containers and decanted containers, see page 7. 


We make the following additional comments:


  • When schools decant solid chemicals into smaller containers on a permanent basis, we recommend that as much information as practicable is included on the label.
  • When schools prepare solutions from solids or concentrated liquids, there is no requirement to put a manufacturer’s name as the school is the manufacturer.
  • Where decanted chemicals require permanent labels, and these are commercially generated without the name of a manufacturer, then an option, when this is required, may be to affix a separate small label with the contact details of the supplier. This is common practice in schools in WA. [This can easily be done by producing a sheet of small labels, that are readily available to affix to relevant bottles/jars.]
  • Where there are several significant hazards to communicate that cannot fit onto a small label, it is best practice to find a suitable means for including this information, such as affixing a complete label to the storage tray that holds a class set of small bottles/jars.  In this way people using the chemicals can readily identify the hazard information, assess the risks and implement suitable controls to minimise exposure to hazardous chemicals.

See Section 3.1 of the labelling Code of Practice which says:


“Where certain hazard or other information has been omitted from the label, then it is recommended that alternative means for communicating the information should be used. The complete set of hazard and other information may be included on an outer box (for example for a box containing several very small ampoules), a swing tag or insert, or a leaflet inside a box”.


References and further reading


‘Labelling chemicals’. Safe Work Australia website. https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/labelling#overview (accessed April 2018)


2 ‘Glossary’. Safe Work Australia website. https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/glossary#Code_of_Practice  (accessed April 2018)


‘Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals – Code of Practice’. Safe Work Australia website.  http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/about/publications/pages/l... (Accessed April 2018)


Science ASSIST. 2014. AIS: Labels for school science chemicals. Science ASSIST website. http://assist.asta.edu.au/resource/2455/ais-labels-school-science-chemicals


State and Territory Links to Information


ACT: ‘Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals’. Access Canberra website. https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/home#/workhealthandsafety (Accessed April 2018)


New South Wales: ‘Chemicals and the GHS’. SafeWork NSW. http://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/health-and-safety/safety-topics-a-z/hazar... (Accessed April 2018)


Northern Territory: Globally Harmonised System (GHS). WorkSafe website. http://www.worksafe.nt.gov.au/SafetyAndPreventions/Hazardous-chemicals/Pages/Globally-Harmonised-System-(GHS).aspx (Accessed May 2018)


Queensland: Globally Harmonised System. WorkSafe Queensland Website.  https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/hazardous-chemi... (Accessed April 2018)


South Australia: ‘Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals’ SafeWork SA Website. https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/health-safety/hazards-risks/chemicals-sub... (Updated May 2018)


Tasmania: 'Globally Harmonised System (GHS)'. WorkSafe Tasmania website. https://worksafe.tas.gov.au/licensing/dangerous_goods/globally_harmonise... (Accessed April 2018)


Victoria:


WorkSafe Victoria. 2017. Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 Work Safe Victoria website. https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/resources/guide-occupational-health-and-... (Link updated February 2019)


WorkSafe Victoria. 2017. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Work Safe Victoria website. https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/resources/globally-harmonized-system-ghs... (Link updated February 2019)


Western Australia:


‘The current status of the GHS in WA’. WorkSafe WA website. https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/ghs-globally-harmonised-system-c... (Accessed April 2018)


‘What are the requirements for labelling a hazardous substance?’ WorkSafe WA website. https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/hazardous-substances-faqs#what-a... (Accessed April 2018)

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