Australia Updates Model Codes of Practice for Hazardous Chemicals

Posted on: September 16, 2020

by Laura Whiteman

Aeorsol can spraying - Australia Updates Model Codes of Practice for Hazardous ChemicalsOn August 28th 2020, SafeWork Australia released a suite of new Model Codes of Practice (COPs) for hazardous chemicals. These COPs are admissible in court proceedings under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, and Work Health and Safety Regulations. These indicate best practice and Courts may rely on the code in determining the best way of complying with the legislation. It is possible to comply with the legislation following other methods, but only if they are of equivalent or higher standard than the Code. Of the ten Model COP’s published, the following are the most relevant for the chemical industry: the Model COP for Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace, the Model COP for Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals and the Model COP for Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals. This is the fourth time that SafeWork Australia has updated their Model COPs for Safety Data Sheets and Labelling since they adopted the Globally Harmonized System of classification and labelling (GHS) 3rd Revised edition in 2012.

Australia is moving to the 7th Revision Edition of the GHS on 1 January 2021, with a 2 year transition period. During the transition period manufacturers and importers may use either the existing GHS Revision 3 or GHS Revision 7 (following either the existing or the new COP), as adopted by Australia. In Australia, each State and Territory has to adopt the Model regulations into their own legislation. South Australia and New South Wales have published exemptions allowing manufacturers and importers to use GHS Revision 7 from July 1st 2020 to January 1st 2021 under a special arrangement. It is expected that most State and Territories will adopt the new Model COP.

All States and Territories allow the use of the GHS for classification and labelling, with Western Australia the only State which has not mandated it (but will allow it). If chemical manufacturers are located in and only supply chemicals to Western Australia they need to comply with Approved Criteria instead of the GHS. If they are suppliers to other States or Territories then they need to be GHS compliant.

Under the WHS Regulations, almost every hazardous chemical in Australia requires a safety data sheet and a label. Key changes under Australia’s adoption of GHS Revision 7 are:

  • Flammable Aerosols has been renamed Aerosols and incorporates non-flammable aerosols as Aerosols Category 3
  • Flammable gas (Category 1) is split into two new categories (Flammable gas Category 1A and Category 1B)
  • There are 3 new flammable gas categories:
    • Pyrophoric gas
    • Chemically unstable gas A
    • Chemically unstable gas B
  • There is a new hazard class for desensitised explosives
  • There is clarification around the Category 2 eye irritants – and Category 2B is no longer exempt
  • Precautionary statements have been updated

Recommended Action Items:

  • Download the new Codes of Practice and review the changes
  • Ensure compliance with new COPs prior to 1 January 2023



Australia, Code of Practice, GHS, Hazardous Chemicals

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