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Reducing harm from hazardous substances

Reducing harm from hazardous substances

A new system for managing hazardous substances in New Zealand will come into force in December 2017.

The biggest change is that the rules that protect people from workplace activities involving hazardous substances will move from the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act – regulated by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) – to a set of new Regulations under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) – regulated by WorkSafe. HSNO still has an important role to play in reducing harm from hazardous substances in the workplace.

“The change means that, in many ways, the HSNO Act will play an even more important part in reducing harm from hazardous substances,” says Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter, General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms at the EPA.

“Our focus will be on ensuring manufacturers and importers have an approval for their substances and have good quality packaging, labels and safety data sheets.

“It’s about making sure the rules are followed at the top of the supply chain. If products enter workplaces with the correct label on them accompanied by a quality safety data sheet managers and staff will be more aware of the risks of using the product and better informed in order to improve workplace health and safety”.

The EPA has developed a series of EPA Notices, which are available on its website. These consolidate and simplify many of the rules for managing hazardous substances, including the labelling, packaging and safety data sheet rules for hazardous substances.

“The labelling and safety data sheet notices align with international rules by incorporating elements from the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling (GHS).” Dr Thomson-Carter says. “This makes it easier for importers to comply with our rules – that’s important for a country that imports the majority of its products.”

The EPA Notices are now published but don’t come into force until 1 December 2017. This gives people time to become familiar with the Notices and how they could affect their business. The Notices also include provisions to allow enough time for manufacturers and importers to comply with any new requirements.

More information about the Notices can be found on the EPA website.


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