Australia Updates GHS Reference Database

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March 17, 2021Chanyanis UtiskulBlog

Safe Work Australia (SWA) issued a statement that provides information about the addition or update of 1,219 hazardous chemicals through the Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS) on 6 March 2021.

The database provides reference information on chemicals classified in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) as well as the Australian Workplace Exposure Standard (WES).

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Under the HCIS, users can search and generate reports of hazardous chemical or exposure standards based on various classification fields, including GHS hazard categories, pictograms and statement codes. Chemical names and their details can be further viewed through the "advance search" feature of the database. This update to the HCIS incorporates classification information published under the Inventory Multi-tiered Assessment and Prioritisation Program (IMAP), which is a three-tier risk assessment framework operated by NICNAS (now the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS)).

Background on HCIS

SWA completed and officially launched the HCIS database on 9 May 2018. This system replaced the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS). The database's format contains two major sets of information, which are the GHS classification of hazardous chemicals and WES. The current regulations (Model Work Health Safety Regulations or WHS regulations) align the definition of Australian "hazardous chemicals" with the criteria defined by the Seventh Revised Edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS 7). The country adopted and implemented GHS 7, which replaced GHS 3, on 1 January 2021, with a two-year transitional period that will end by 31 December 2022. Information related to the WES is linked to the regulatory source, which is the Workplace Exposure Standards for Airborne Contaminants.

According to the statement provided by the authority, "the database was created to help manufacturers, suppliers, and end-users of chemicals meet the requirements of the GHS" and "HCIS is only published as guidance, and it is ultimately the responsibility of the manufacturer or importer of the hazardous chemical to ensure that it is correctly classified." Information is based on those provided by "authoritative sources," including Australia's AICIS as well as the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

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Entities or individuals who operate chemical and chemical-related products in Australia are encouraged to check the HCIS database to help ensure the correct GHS classification and preparation of labeling and safety data sheets (SDS) as required under the WHS laws and regulations. The following supporting documents should also be taken into consideration to ensure full compliance:

  • The Model Code of Practice: Labeling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals 
  • The Model Code of Practice: Preparing Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals

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