Notice regarding consequential amendments to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act and Regulations arising from changes to the Work Health and Safety Legislation

On 1 January 2012, new work health and safety laws were introduced in New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory. These new laws are based on the Model Work Health and Safety legislation developed by Safe Work Australia. Under the new legislation the hazard classification of chemicals will be conducted in accordance with the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), as adopted in the Model Work Health and Safety Regulations. A 5 year transition period will apply in which classifications under the Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances (Approved Criteria) will be acceptable in addition to the GHS. Under the new legislation, the term “Material Safety Data Sheet” has been replaced by the term “Safety Data Sheet”. The term “Material Safety Data Sheet” also appears in the NICNAS Act and Regulations. These changes impact on NICNAS obligations. In February 2012 NICNAS published a notice in the Chemical Gazette regarding the impact of the recent changes on obligations under the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act (the ICNA Act); including the definition of hazardous chemical and hazard eligibility criteria for certain new chemical permits. On 24th May 2012 amendments to the ICNA Regulations were approved by the Governor-General. The amendments arising as a consequence of changes to the Work Health and Safety legislation are: Amendment of the definition of a hazardous chemical. The definition has been amended to align with the revised definition in the Model Work Health and Safety Regulations (2011), and is now: A hazardous chemical is a chemical that satisfies the criteria for a hazard class under the GHS, but does not include a chemical that satisfies the criteria solely for one of the following hazard classes: flammable gas – category 2; acute toxicity – oral, category 5; acute toxicity – dermal, category 5; acute toxicity – inhalation, category 5; skin corrosion/irritation, category 3; serious eye damage/eye irritation, category 2B; aspiration hazard, category 2; hazardous to the aquatic environment, category acute 1, 2 or 3; hazardous to the aquatic environment, category chronic 1, 2, 3 or 4; hazardous to the ozone layer. Inclusion of a definition for GHS. As the definition of a hazardous chemical now refers to the GHS a definition for this term has been added to the ICNA Regulations, and is: GHS means the document called ‘Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals’, third revised edition, published by the United Nations. The ICNA Regulations set out the health effects criteria that need to be met in order for a chemical/polymer to be considered either ‘low-hazardous’ or ‘low risk’, for the purposes of determining eligibility for certain new chemical permit categories (Low Volume Chemical permit (LVC), Controlled Use Permit (CUP) and Early Introduction Permit (EIP)). These criteria were based on risk phrases which applied under the Approved Criteria. The new criteria, based on hazard classes under the GHS, are set out below. Low-hazardous’ criteria for LVC (up to 1000 kg) and EIP: For a chemical (including a polymer other than those with number average molecular weight that is 1000 or greater) the health effects criteria that need to be met are that the chemical is: not a hazardous chemical; or a hazardous chemical that is classified under the GHS as ‘skin irritant, category 2’; or a hazardous chemical that is classified under the GHS as ‘eye irritant, category 2A’. For a polymer with number average molecular weight that is 1000 or greater the health effects criteria that need to be met are that the polymer does not have any of the following hazard classes under the GHS: acute toxicity, category 1, 2 or 3; skin corrosion, category 1A, 1B or 1C; serious eye damage, category 1; respiratory sensitisation, category 1A or 1B; skin sensitisation, category 1A or 1B; germ cell mutagenicity, category 1A, 1B or 2; carcinogenicity, category 1A, 1B or 2; reproductive toxicity, category 1A, 1B or 2; adverse effects on or via lactation; specific target organ toxicity-single exposure, category 1 or 2; specific target organ toxicity-repeated exposure, category 1 or 2. Hazard criteria for CUP and ‘low risk’ EIP. The criteria for a chemical (including all polymers) are that the chemical does not have any of the following hazard classes under the GHS: acute toxicity, category 1, 2 or 3; skin corrosion, category 1A, 1B or 1C; serious eye damage, category 1; respiratory sensitisation, category 1A or 1B; skin sensitisation, category 1A or 1B; germ cell mutagenicity, category 1A, 1B or 2; carcinogenicity, category 1A, 1B or 2; reproductive toxicity, category 1A, 1B or 2; adverse effects on or via lactation; specific target organ toxicity-single exposure, category 1 or 2; specific target organ toxicity-repeated exposure, category 1 or 2. Replacement of criteria for health effects which applied under the Approved Criteria with corresponding hazard classes which apply under the GHS (used for determination of eligibility for certain new chemical permit categories). For the purposes of national consistency in the regulation of industrial chemicals across the various jurisdictions, NICNAS intends to adopt the change made in the new work, health and safety laws by changing the term “Material Safety Data Sheet” to “Safety Data Sheet”. Examples of where the term appears in the Act are: Section 21D – information to accompany an application for a commercial evaluation permit Section 33 – information to be included in an assessment report Section 60B – information to be included in an assessment report Section 78 – availability of copies of Material Safety Data Sheets Item 12 in Part B of the Schedule to the Act – information requirement for application for assessment. Changing the term “Material Safety Data Sheet” to “Safety Data Sheet” requires changes to the Act and Regulations. NICNAS will advise stakeholders of progress in due course. The recommendations from Safe Work Australia regarding transitional arrangements for hazardous chemicals is for a five year period in which classification under the Approved Criteria will be acceptable in addition to the GHS for purposes of Safety Data Sheets and labelling. To minimise impact on industry, NICNAS is also proposing a five year transition period (from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2016) in which classification under the Approved Criteria will be acceptable if classification under the GHS is not available to the notifier. During this time NICNAS new chemical assessment reports will continue to present recommendations regarding classification under both systems. The obligation for ensuring the correct classification is applied to chemicals and products remains with the introducer or supplier. A five year transition period will also apply to the acceptance of Material Safety Data Sheets, in addition to Safety Data Sheets, for the purposes of obligations under the ICNA Act. The amended definitions and hazard criteria will be included in the revised NICNAS Handbook (expected for release by end 2012). This guidance will include the comparison of the hazard criteria between the Approved Criteria and the GHS, as was published in the February edition of the Chemical Gazette.

NICNAS Chemical Gazette, 3 July 2012 ;http://www.nicnas.gov.au/Publications/Chemical_Gazette ;