Manufacturing or importing chemicals or chemical products

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Do you know what kind of chemicals or chemical products you are manufacturing or importing?

All chemicals that are used in a workplace are subject to work health and safety (WHS) classification and labelling requirements. Chemicals and chemical products are further defined in Australia into the following categories:

  1. Agricultural chemical product —
    means a substance or mixture of substances that is a means of directly or indirectly:
    1. destroying (including attracting to destroy), stupefying, repelling, inhibiting, attracting or preventing a pest in relation to a plant, a place or a thing; or
    2. destroying a plant; or
    3. modifying the physiology of a plant so as to alter its natural development, productivity or reproductive capacity; or
    4. modifying the effect of another agricultural chemical product.
  2. Veterinary chemical product —
    a substance or mixture of substances that:
    1. is a means of directly or indirectly:
      1. preventing, diagnosing, curing or alleviating a disease or condition in an animal or an infestation of an animal by a pest in relation to that animal; or
      2. curing or alleviating an injury suffered by an animal; or
      3. modifying the physiology of an animal:
        1. so as to alter its natural development, productivity or reproductive capacity; or
        2. so as to make it more manageable; or
    2. modifies the effect of another veterinary chemical product.
  3. Chemicals for therapeutic use —
    means use in, or in connection with:
    1. preventing, diagnosing, curing or alleviating diseases, ailments, defects or injuries in humans; or
    2. influencing, inhibiting or modifying physiological processes in humans; or
    3. testing the susceptibility of humans to diseases or ailments;

      and, without limiting this, includes use in, or in connection with, testing for pregnancy, contraception, prosthetics or orthotics.

  4. Food additive —
    means a chemical whose inclusion in food as a food additive is permitted under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code(as defined for the purposes of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991).
  5. Industrial chemical —
    means a chemical that has an industrial use, or a chemical that cannot be classified into one of the alternate categories (see categories 1–4 above) including ingredients used in cosmetics products.

Definitions are those as indicated in Part 1, Section 7 of the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989.

Do you know about the assessment and classification process that applies when you are manufacturing or importing chemicals or chemical products?

Manufacturers and importers of industrial chemicals for commercial purposes must register their business with NICNAS regardless of the amount of industrial chemical involved. Businesses are not required to be registered with NICNAS if they only use locally sourced chemicals to formulate products and a chemical reaction does not take place during the process.

The first step, if you are manufacturing or importing a chemical or chemical product is to check whether the chemicals or ingredients in the chemical products are on the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS).If they are on the AICS, the chemical may be manufactured in accordance with any relevant conditions. If the chemical or ingredients in the chemical products are not on the AICS, the chemicals may need to be notified to NICNAS before being manufactured.

Once you have considered the intended use of your products or ingredients you should check to see if there are any additional requirements placed on your product when it is manufactured, such as labelling requirements or Safety Data Sheets and whether there are any restrictions placed on the chemical under Commonwealth, State or Territory legislation.

Did you know that there may be restrictions on the use of chemicals or chemical products to manage the risks posed to public health, the environment, and work health and safety?

Some chemicals may have existing regulatory restrictions on their use and regulators may place new or additional restrictions or risk mitigation measures on some chemicals if assessment outcomes indicate that there are increased risks associated with their use.

For example, there are additional regulations placed on the manufacture, import, export and use of agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemical products because of their large scale application to crops and land, which can have implications for food stocks and the environment. To understand if your agvet chemical products are subject to additional regulatory requirements you should consult the manufacture, trade and supply information on the APVMA website.

In order to manufacture veterinary products in Australia, you are required to demonstrate compliance with the APVMA’s requirements for good manufacturing practice. This includes Manufacturing Principles and the associated Australian Code of Good Manufacturing Practice for Veterinary Chemical Products (GMP). Compliant businesses will be issued a licence by the APVMA.

For consumer chemical products including cosmetics, the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP or also called the Poisons Standard) lists chemicals with restrictions or prohibitions (i.e. controls on manufacture, supply, distribution, possession, sale or use)to be adopted through relevant state and territory legislation. The SUSMP also provides model provisions for labelling, containers, storage and possession of chemicals, which are intended to be adopted by states and territories, according to local requirements and local law.

For consumer products, the ACCC has specific bans and restrictions for household chemicals in consumer products.

Have you considered the properties of chemicals or chemical products you are making?

The Hazardous Substances Information System is an online resource that allows you to search for information and access a list of classified substances contained in the database. However, note that the database does not contain information on all chemicals.

The OECD eChemPortal provides information on the scientific properties and behaviours of different types of chemicals as well as their level of toxicity. The portal also contains valuable information relating to chemical hazards and risk information.

Do you know what labelling or packaging requirements apply to your chemicals or chemical products?

A number of government bodies regulate the different labelling and packaging requirements for products based on their intended use. For example, chemicals that are in cosmetic products for public use are regulated differently to those intended for industrial application. Appropriate labelling and packaging is important so that individuals handling your products understand the potential risks associated with your products.

You should also make sure that your labelling and packaging practices are compliant with the trade measurement requirements for prepackaged articles.

There are specific, internationally recognised labelling and packaging requirements for the transport of dangerous goods (see glossary for definition/ classification of dangerous goods). Requirements are specified in the:

Are you aware of general product safety requirements?

If you are supplying, manufacturing or importing chemical products, you have an important role to play in ensuring that products meet safety standards and that unsafe goods do not go on to the market. It is important that you undertake all necessary actions to minimise the likelihood of injury, illness or death as a result of the use or misuse of the product.

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