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How to identify hazardous chemicals

To keep your workplace safe, it is important that you understand what hazardous chemicals are and how to identify them.

Safety data sheets (SDS) and labels

Manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals are responsible for classifying hazardous chemicals and developing the product's container label and safety data sheet (SDS) that comply with the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Find out how to:

Learn more about your obligations for preparing an SDS and labelling containers.

The SDS is a document that tells you what the chemical and physical properties of a material are. A SDS also provides advice on how to safely store, handle and dispose of hazardous chemicals. Included is information on what protective equipment to wear and what emergency procedures should be followed.

To identify if a substance is hazardous, check the product's container label and/or the SDS which is available from the supplier. If a product is not classified as a hazardous chemical under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, a SDS is not required and therefore may not be available. If you are unsure, always check with the product's supplier. The labels of hazardous chemicals usually contain the words 'danger' or 'warning', along with relevant pictograms and details of hazards.

Request a SDS from a supplier

If you use hazardous chemicals in your workplace, you must ensure a copy of the SDS is readily accessible to workers via a register. If you do not have a copy of the SDS, obtain the SDS from your supplier.

Find out more about labelling and SDS.

Supplier's obligations to prepare a SDS and correctly labelled containers

If you are a supplier of hazardous chemicals, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 requires that you provide a SDS at first supply of the material, or on request, and ensure containers for hazardous chemical product's are correctly labelled. If you are the manufacturer or importer as well as the supplier, you have specific duties for each undertaking.

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