755 chemicals were added to Australia's Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS) in May this year. Another 672 substances had their classifications amended. The HCIS provides information on chemicals that have been classified in accordance with Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals for manufacturers, importers, suppliers and end users.
The Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS) is a database run by Safework Australia that allows you to find information on chemicals that have been classified in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). HCIS also allows you to search Australian Workplace Exposure Standards (WES).
It was launched in July 2016 and currently contains GHS classifications for over 4,500 chemicals and Workplace Exposure Standards for 690 airborne contaminants.
It is the responsibility of the Australian manufacturer/importer to determine if their product is a hazardous chemical and if so, to correctly classify their product. If you are unsure about the classification of a chemical not included in this database you should contact your chemical supplier or the manufacturer/importer for more information or source independent professional advice.
Developed by the United Nations, the GHS is a single, global methodology for chemical classification and hazard communication using labelling and SDS. It gives users practical, consistent and easy to understand information on chemical hazards and helps them take the appropriate preventive and protective measures for their health and safety.
The GHS has gradually been introduced into Australia, with varying timelines on the level of introduction dependant on the jurisdiction. Newly manufactured or imported workplace hazardous chemicals must now be labelled in accordance with the GHS. Suppliers and end users of hazardous chemicals must only supply and accept hazardous chemicals which have been classified and labelled in accordance with the GHS.
Chemicals are widely and safely used in many workplaces. WorkSafe Victoria reports that a quarter of all Victorian employees regularly use hazardous substances such as chemicals, flammable liquids and gases in their work. However, if not managed properly, Hazardous Substances & Dangerous Goods (alternatively known as Hazardous Chemicals) can pose a serious threat to workers health and safety as well as negatively impact the environment.
In order to meet your legal and moral responsibilities, you need to identify and manage any risks associated with Hazardous Chemicals and provide information, training and supervision to your staff. Some of the things that you need to ensure are covered include:
You have a duty to ensure your employees and the community are protected from the risks associated with using chemicals in your workplace. They can cause acute or long-term detrimental health effects. In addition they can also harm your property and the environment. Make sure you are storing, handling and managing them correctly.
If you would like to see details of the 755 chemicals added to Australia's Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS), click here