Chemicals (Hazardous Chemicals)
If you handle chemicals then you should be aware of your duties under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulation 2017 (NSW), in particular Chapter 7 - Hazardous chemicals (opens an external site). This includes requirements for workplaces dealing with substances, mixtures or articles that are defined as 'hazardous chemicals'.
Since 31 December 2016 it is mandatory to classify and label hazardous chemicals according the the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Companion Guide to the GHS (Pdf, 905Kb).
Persons responsible for managing a 'hazardous chemical' are required to:
- Identify the hazardous properties of the chemical by reading the label and manufacturer Safety Data Sheet
- Assess the risk of using that chemical, considering its hazardous properties, the possibility for harmful reactions, and the nature of the work with the chemical
- Control, or minimise, the risk of harm to persons using the chemical.
Identify the hazard
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
Safety Data Sheets provide hazard information on chemical substances and signal whether a substance is a 'hazardous chemical' or not. They can be obtained through supplier websites, such as:
- Sigma Aldrich (opens an external site)
- Chemsupply (opens an external site)
- Bausch and Lomb (opens an external site)
- Fisher Scientific (opens an external site)
- VWR (opens an external site)
- Merck Millipore (opens an external site)
At UTS, Safety Datasheets from the supplier are collected for easy access in:
Health and Safety legislation requires that a SDS must be provided by the supplier of a chemical substance to the purchaser, so always request a SDS from the supplier or manufacturer whenever you purchase any chemical or mixture of substances for the first time.
It is the responsibility of the purchaser of a hazardous chemical to make sure that the SDS is available to others using the chemical at work.
SDSs must be replaced after 5 years from the date of issue.
Hazardous chemicals must be labelled according to Clause 335 of the NSW WHS Regulation 2017 (opens an external site). Detailed information on labelling chemicals according to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals is in the SafeWork NSW Code of Practice for Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals April 2016 (Pdf, 1544 Kb).
Persons who decant hazardous chemicals must label the new container appropriately.
You can create labels for decanted substances using:
All labels should be in the GHS format. Containers of substances purchased from the supplier should already have the correct labels.
Information on existing dangerous goods class label diamonds.
Hazardous chemicals are classified according to their health and physicochemical hazards. Manufacturer will classify their products based on rules provided by the regulators. Hazardous chemicals made at UTS (e.g. mixtures) must be classified in the same way.
The existing Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances is being phased out between 2012 to end of 2016 and replaced with the new Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
More information is available from SafeWork Australia.
- SafeWork Australia Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS) (opens an external site)
- Classification of mixtures based on the ACCHS (opens an external site)
- Online conversion tool to convert from ACCHS classification to the new GHS classification (opens an external site)
- European Commission’s GHS database to search for GHS classifications (opens an external site)
Managers of laboratories, workshops and chemical stores must maintain a register, or inventory, of hazardous chemicals.
This can be achieved using either a:
- Paper based register, such as the downloadable:
Hazardous chemicals register (PDF, 81 Kb), or
- Customised electronic spreadsheet, or
- By using the UTS Online Chemical Inventory Database (OCID).
A chemical risk assessment must be completed by anyone who intends to use a hazardous chemical. This includes:
- Supervisors of persons who use hazardous chemical as as part of their work e.g. in maintenance or construction.
- Academics or researchers who design an activity that uses a hazardous chemical. e.g. student laboratory work or work on a research project.
- Managers of laboratories, workshops and chemical stores for activities of their staff or activities in the facility under their control that involve a hazardous chemicals. e.g. preparation of substances for teaching or maintenance of chemical stocks.
In a chemical risk assessment, the risk level depends on:
- degree of exposure
to the substance – exposure is dependent on frequency of exposure, duration of exposure and intensity of exposure (e.g. concentration in breathing air).
- consequence of exposure
to the substance – severity of the hazardous nature of the substance itself. Found in the SDS.
If the risk is "not significant", this fact should be recorded and no other action need be taken.
To assist in conducting the risk assessment use:
or download the template Risk Assessment for Use of a Hazardous Chemical (Word 90Kb Doc).
- Any risk of harm from physical or chemical reactions arising from use of chemical must also be considered in the risk assessment.
- Risk assessments must be done in consultation with staff who will be working with the chemical.
- All laboratory workers are responsible for ensuring that their work with hazardous chemicals has been formally assessed for risk and follows all control measures described on the risk assessment.
- Keep a printout of the risk assessment an easily accessible folder together with the SDS.
- Risk control measures identified by the risk assessment must be communicated to staff who will be working with the chemical.
- Each assessment should be reviewed at least every five years, or whenever the use of the substance is changed, or whenever new information about the substance becomes available.
Any risk control measures must be reviewed and revised if necessary when there is a change to the way the chemical is used, when new safety information becomes available or at least every 5 years.
Storage of chemicals
Chemicals which react with each other must be segregated. All staff and students handling chemicals must be made aware of the incompatibilities of these chemicals with other chemicals and must take any special precautions. Refer to the SDS for storage requirements and incompatibilities.
Store infrequently used chemical stock in the appropriate chemical store rather than the laboratory or workshop. Post the inventory of the stock added to the store on the inside of the store door, so that it can be added to the UTS chemical database.
Use sparkproof refrigerators for storing flammable liquids. Otherwise, a violent explosion can occur.
All gas cylinders must be secured to a bench or wall to prevent them from falling.
Induction and training
Staff and students dealing with hazardous substances and dangerous goods must be trained in the safe use of these chemicals. Records must be kept of this training. Training should cover:
- How to label chemical containers.
- How to access and interpret Safety Data Sheets.
- Hazards of specific chemicals to which the staff and students may be exposed.
- How staff can contribute to creating risk assessments and access the risk assessments.
- Safe work practices e.g. storage, transport, disposal.
- Use of safety equipment.
- Use of spill kit and emergency response procedures.
Personal protective equipment
Make sure that gloves used are impermeable to the solvent you are handling. Check the manufacturers permeability chart to decide which type of glove is most appropriate. e.g. use PVA gloves when handling chlorinated hydrocarbons, not latex gloves.
There is further information on the use of personal protective equipment.
There is further information on the method for disposal of hazardous, including chemical, waste at UTS (UTS Staff access only).
Managers of facilities that use chemicals, such as laboratories and workshops, must provide spill response equipment and training . A decision on the type of spill kit will be based on volumes and types of substances used as per the risk assessment.
If you intend to use a Notifiable Carcinogenic Substance as listed in Schedule 10 of the WHS Regulation 2017 (opens an external site), you must first notify Safety & Wellbeing (ext. 1063) of your intention to use that substance.