The new regime for classifying hazardous substances is now in effect, in the interests of making it safer for New
Zealanders using chemicals.
New Zealand is now using the Globally Harmonised System (GHS 7), an internationally agreed way of classifying chemicals.
It captures physical hazards such as flammability, human health hazards such as skin irritation, and environmental
hazards such as how toxic a chemical is in water.
The changes primarily require importers and manufacturers to update their hazard classification, labelling, and safety
data sheets. Consumers should start to see the GHS pictograms appearing on product labels, as New Zealand’s chemical
labelling aligns with the rest of the world.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has led the three-year project, engaging with the European Chemicals
Agency, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), domestic regulators, and stakeholders
including industry and the public.
"Chemicals touch every area of our lives. The world of chemical management is dynamic and fast-moving, so it’s important
we stay on top of best practice," says the EPA’s General Manager of Compliance, Monitoring, and Enforcement, Gayle
The project received $820,000 of funding in Budget 2019, to bring New Zealand’s 20-year-old hazard classification system
up to date.
"The changes align our chemical management with the rest of the world, support international trade, and facilitate
improved regulatory compliance," says Gayle Holmes.
Although there is a transition period through to 2025 for many requirements, the EPA is strongly encouraging industry to
comply with the various changes sooner rather than later.
A large and diverse number of chemicals classed as hazardous substances are in use in New Zealand. The EPA is
responsible for approvals covering more than 150,000 hazardous substances regulated under the HSNO Act.
The next phase of the project is to complete a move to the International Uniform Chemical Information Database, later in
"Once all the chemical data is migrated, the database will provide a solid foundation for our chemical management regime
into the future," says Gayle Holmes.