Desktop assessment of international approaches to incorporating the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals in agricultural and veterinary chemicals regulation

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources engaged Deloitte to conduct a re​view of any duplication of effort and unnecessary costs caused by agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals complying with both work health and safety (WHS) and agvet chemical legislation.

The WHS legislation requires many agvet chemical labels to include additional hazard and precautionary statements based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

Deloitte’s review incorporated a desk-top assessment of approaches to implementing the GHS for agvet chemicals in several overseas jurisdictions. The countries examined were the United States of America (USA), Canada, New Zealand, and Japan. This work is reflected in the report:

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Other findings from Deloitte’s review are provided in its Chemical Labelling Duplication Review report.

Summary of Findings

All countries examined have adopted the hazard-based GHS for chemicals generally and operate risk-based regulatory systems for agvet chemical labelling. New Zealand allows both risk and hazard-based approaches for agvet chemicals.

Deloitte concluded that the USA, Canada and Japan do not apply GHS label statements to pesticides. However, in the USA, safety data sheets (which incorporate GHS information) are captured by the legal definition of labelling when they accompany a chemical product; this has caused some issues due to potential inconsistencies between the information provided on the label attached to the package and that on the safety data sheet.

Deloitte found no evidence that the USA, Canada or Japan require GHS labelling for veterinary medicines.

Deloitte noted that New Zealand provides a degree of flexibility to allow for both risk and hazard-based labelling of agvet chemicals and that GHS label statements are optional in New Zealand. New Zealand legislation also recognises labels from Australia, the USA, Canada and other jurisdictions as meeting its labelling requirements for agvet chemicals.

Deloitte also found that the GHS envisages that competent authorities would continue to implement and maintain risk-based regulatory approaches for chemicals (such as that applied to agvet chemical regulation in Australia). It noted that risks associated with the use of veterinary medicines are not part of the GHS. Deloitte also concluded that few additional benefits for agvet chemicals in Australia are likely to arise from international harmonisation under the GHS.​

If you need further information about:

  • GHS labelling requirements for hazardous workplace chemical products in your state or territory, contact the work health and safety authority near you.
  • National GHS labelling requirements, contact Safe Work Australia
  • Mandatory labelling requirements for agricultural chemicals and veterinary medicines, contact the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
  • Australian policy for access to safe agvet chemicals, contact the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources on Ph: +61 2 6272 3324.

Information about the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is available at UNECE. ​​

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