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Hazardous Substances

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.

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.

06 Feb 2014

Clearing the air

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What hazardous substances are lurking in your neck of the woods? 

On 17 April 2013, an explosion at the West Fertilizer Company plant in Texas left 15 people dead and around 200 injured.

The explosion raised questions in Australia and around the world about how chemical companies control hazardous substances and what potential impact there might be on the community.

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Published in National Safety magazine, August-September 2013.







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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