Chemical use in the workplace can be a health or safety hazard if not handled or stored correctly. Safely managing the chemicals in your workplace is good for your business and it is good for your workers. Not only will it improve employee health and safety, but it can also introduce cost savings through the use of more effective work practices such as correct handling, storage and disposal procedures.
Who is affected by the current GHS regulation?
Manufacturers, importers and suppliers of hazardous chemicals are the most affected by the Work Health and Safety Regulation. Fully effective from the 1st of January 2017, the new system of chemical classification and hazard communication on labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) is based on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
Your steps to GHS compliance
All organisations should manage risks associated with using, handling, generating or storing hazardous chemicals at a workplace.
1. Obtain safety data sheets
Safety data sheets provide information on the chemical hazards, advice on safe handling, use and storage, and the emergency measures to be followed in case of an accident. Organisations should ensure they obtain the current safety data sheets from the manufacturer or supplier of the hazardous chemical when the chemical is first supplied. Failure to do so may result in a $6000 fine for individuals and $30,000 for corporates.
All chemicals should have a label on the container clearly identifying the chemical and its hazards. Labelling should be in accordance with GHS and should include general instructions on how to safely use the chemicals, precautions, and storage and disposal directions. The information on the labels should be readable at all times.
3. Accessibility of the safety data sheets
Work Health and Safety Australia requires all the current safety data sheets for the hazardous chemical to be readily accessible to all stakeholders in the workplace. This includes the workers involved in using, handling or storing, emergency service workers and anyone else who is likely to be exposed to the hazardous chemical at the workplace. Non-compliance can attract an $18000 penalty to your organisation.
Conduct an inventory of all hazardous chemicals and prepare an up-to-date register. To eliminate unnecessary workload as well as reduce risk levels, it is advisable to identify and dispose all inactive products. Train your workers and educate them on the new system of labelling and SDS.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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