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A new chemical information service has been established to help the transition to a new global chemical classification system that will come into effect in Australia in January 2017.

The Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS) includes 4500 chemicals classified in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

On announcing the new service, Safe Work Australia said the adoption of the GHS in Australia will advance the internationally consistent classification and communication of chemical hazards information on chemical labels and Safety Data Sheets. The 3rd revised edition of the GHS is referred to in the model work health and safety laws.

However, Safe Work Australia issued the following warning to those using the database to identify chemicals: “Please be aware that HCIS is not a comprehensive database of all chemicals. 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.”

For more details, visit HCIS.

The mandatory role of chemical exposure standards in Australia is under review.

Safe Work Australia has recently released the discussion paper, The role of chemical exposure standards in work health and safety laws. The paper examines how the exposure standards could be reviewed.

Exposure standards set the airborne concentrations of chemical substances in worker’s breathing zones. Currently the standards are mandatory in all jurisdictions, the paper notes.

“Australia’s workplace exposure standards were first adopted from the standards set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) in the 1980s by the National Health and Medical Research Council,” the paper states.

“They were first published by Safe Work Australia’s predecessor the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC) in 1990. About 80 of the 644 standards were updated between 1995-2005 by NOHSC; however, the vast majority have not been updated since they were adopted.”

The paper is seeking feedback on the following: how exposure standards are currently used; the impact exposure standard compliance has on business and workers; the role exposure standards should have in the regulatory framework; and the processes that should be used to review and maintain Australia’s exposure standards.

Submissions close 5.30 pm on 18 December 2015.

For more detail, visit the paper

Published on 19 November 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin enewsletter – available free every fortnight direct to your email. Subscribe online today

A Victorian parliamentary inquiry has recommended that the state government assess the feasibility of free testing of firefighters and others who may have been contaminated by chemicals at the Country Fire Authority (CFA) Training College at Fiskville.

The inquiry noted that Brian Potter, a former CFA chief officer and Fiskville instructor, raised concerns about contamination and possible health risks at Fiskville in 2011. And possible links between the training site and cancers and other diseases were reported by the Herald Sun in December 2011.

The inquiry’s interim report recommends that the Victorian Government assess the feasibility of providing free voluntary testing for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) for firefighters, former college staff and trainees, and people who live near the college.

The inquiry also recommends that the Victorian Government ensure that any person who wants to see records and documents about their involvement with Fiskville is able to do so from government agencies and departments.

Testing of the soil and water at the training college and adjoining properties is also recommended.

For more details, visit the interim report

Published on 2 July 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin.

Hazardous substances, mixtures and articles can be found in most workplaces and are at the forefront of World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April.

Chemical use is widespread such as photocopier toner in offices, bonding agents in nail salons, dyes in hairdressing salons, pharmaceuticals in hospitals, pesticides in horticulture, paint on construction sites or oil at petrochemical plants.

Australia is currently transitioning to the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The GHS harmonises the communication of hazard information.

Australia has until the end of 2016 to switch over to the GHS. Currently chemicals can be classified under the GHS or the Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances and the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (ADG Code).

The GHS is included in the model Work Health and Safety Regulations, which state that manufacturers and importers of chemicals supplied to a workplace must correctly identify and classify chemicals according to the 3rd Revised Edition of the GHS. However, some differences exist between the regulations and the GHS; for example, in the regulations in schedule 6, Classification of Mixtures, the tables replace some of the tables in the GHS.

As chemicals are found in every workplace, all organisations, not just manufacturers and importers, should be familiar with the language used to communicate chemical hazards.

For more details, visit World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Safe Work Australia.

Published on 23 April 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Importers, hairdressers and other businesses have a new voluntary chemical code of practice to help them prevent terrorist attacks.

The Federal Government released the National Code of Practice for Chemicals of Security Concern late last week to help businesses prevent certain chemicals getting into terrorists’ hands.

The chemicals include ammonium perchlorate, hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, nitromethane, potassium chlorate, potassium nitrate, potassium perchlorate, sodium azide, sodium chlorate, sodium perchlorate and sodium nitrate.

The code covers managing security risks, investigating and reporting security breaches and suspicious behaviour, and verifying if customers are legitimate.

The Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC says in a media statement that the code is for importers, distributors, transporters, universities, farmers, hardware stores, pool chemical suppliers, hairdressers and other industry sectors that manufacture, handle or use the chemicals listed in the code.

For more details, visit the code.

Published on 1 August 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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