New Zealand EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) is proposing to update its current hazardous substance classification to Revision 7 of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The consultation period ends on January 9, 2020.

The key legislation to manage hazardous substances is the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO). This outlines a criterion that designates a substance as hazardous and assigns it a HSNO hazard classification number. If this proposal is approved, this will mark the first time New Zealand has converted the HSNO numbers to those used by GHS.

Outlined in the proposal are some benefits with aligning the current New Zealand framework with GHS, this includes:

  • Increase efficiency with chemical management by aligning with international SDS and label requirements
  • The classification system will be aligned with the EPA’s labelling and SDS notices, reducing complexity for the industry

Conversely, there will be costs involved with aligning to GHS 7:

  • Regulators that have systems in place using the HSNO classifications will need to be updated
  • Companies will need to prepare new SDSs and labels for their products
  • Overall, reduced efficiency during the transition phase

Once the proposal is approved, it will become law mid-April 2021, with a transitional period until December 2023. The EPA will also consult with the industry on the best approach to convert HSNO approvals to GHS classifications.

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