January 1st 2017 was due to be the date that Australia began a small step towards raising the bar and joining the global community in adopting and mandating the GHS.
However in an unsurprising turn of events, by mid December 2016, Michelle Baxter, CEO of Safe Work Australia decided to announce that on 25th November 2016 members had agreed to let Australia lag behind the rest of the world and water down the GHS somewhat by allowing “Chemicals manufactured or imported before 1 January 2017 can continue to be supplied without needing to meet the labelling requirements of the model Work Health and Safety Regulations”
The decision by Safe Work Australia CEO to support a lesser implementation should not come as a shock, Australia so fragmented when it comes to Safety have struggled since the Harmonized legislation (WHS Act 2011 & Regs 2011) was brought in to most states and territories on or after 1st January 2012.
However in an even greater backwards step (when it comes to the GHS) was the action of Western Australia, Victoria & the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
The regulator and decision makers in the above jurisdictions decided that the GHS was not something they wished to be part of (at this point in time) and have taken the steps not to enforce the GHS, but allow Australian businesses and operations within the states and territories to continue to use the old Australian standard.
Confused? You will be. Where a business in WA, VIC & ACT may come unstuck is when they move a product or operate outside their jurisdictions, meaning that they will have to mean the basic principal of the GHS (minus the caveat that Ms. Baxter had pushed through).
These actions have in turn caused confusion with businesses who operate in the SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) markets and traditionally do not have a dedicated WHS/Compliance capability. So when did the GHS start?
It effective concept was back in Rio in 1992 and by the year 2000 a number of countries had begun to map out their transition and over the last 25 years or so have seen the fruits of the United Nations become a reality, including Taiwan who fully adopted the GHS in 2016 and Canada by 1st June 2015.