Chemical Compliance
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GHS Implementation in New Zealand
Oct 17, 2022
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New Zealand, which is one of the earliest countries that have adopted GHS, adopted a GHS-based hazard classification framework in 2001 under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO). All hazardous chemicals (both substances and mixtures) in New Zealand had been covered by the HSNO hazard classification system since July 2006.

On April 30, 2021, New Zealand adopted UN GHS Rev.7 as its official hazard classification system, which replaced the HSNO hazard classification system established in 2001 and brought New Zealand's chemical management in line with the rest of the world. It is implemented in New Zealand via the Hazardous Substances (Hazard Classification) Notice 2020.

Authorities and regulations

There are two main authorities involved in hazard classification of chemicals in New Zealand, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and WorkSafe New Zealand (WorkSafe). Followings are the major regulations and standards.

Competent authorities




Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO)

Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA)

Supporting standards


After April 30, 2021, substances with the individual approval granted under the HSNO must comply with the UN GHS Rev.7 and the updated labeling, SDS and packaging notices.

l  For substances with individual approval issued before April 30, 2021, a four-year transitional period is granted.

l  For substances managed under a group standard, they must also comply with the updated labeling, SDS and packaging notices by April 30, 2025, regardless of when the substance was imported into or manufactured in New Zealand.

Regulations under HSWA continue to refer to the HSNO hazard classification system. There is no change to the hazard classification system and the workplace requirements for hazardous substances under the HSWA and the two supporting standards.


The following table shows the building blocks adopted in New Zealand. The building blocks highlighted in blue are added which apply only to agrichemicals or an active ingredient used in the manufacture of an agrichemical that is a pesticide or veterinary medicine.

The following building blocks in UN GHS Rev.7 are not adopted in New Zealand:

  • Acute toxicity category 5

  • Skin corrosion/skin irritation category 3

  • Aspiration hazard category 2

  • Hazardous to the aquatic environment acute categories 2 and 3

  • Hazardous to the ozone layer

  • Eye irritation subcategories 2A and 2B

The HSNO to UN GHS Rev.7 Correlation Table published by the EPA lists the hazard classifications and their correlation to the previous HSNO hazard classification system used.

Where the UN GHS Rev.7 provides optional concentration cut-off values for classification of mixtures, the EPA adopted the lower concentration cut-off values. These are listed in Schedule 2 -Replacement of Certain GHS Tables Relating to Mixtures of the Hazardous Substances (Hazard Classification) Notice 2020. These lower cut-off values are consistent with pre-existing HSNO cut-off values.

SDS requirements

New Zealand’s SDS consists of the following 16 sections with specific information provided under each section. As a rule, it shall be prepared in English. It's the responsibility of the supplier to provide an SDS for all the hazardous substances they supply, and to ensure that it is compliant. Allowing for the transitional provisions, it is a legal requirement for an SDS to be revised every five years. An SDS must be updated if there is new information available on the substance, including its hazardous properties and any relevant health and safety information.

The EPA also allows compliant SDS from Australia, EU, Canada, and USA to be used, as long as certain New Zealand specific information is also included, i.e.,

  • the name and contact details of the New Zealand importer or New Zealand manufacturer and New Zealand emergency contact details (Section 1 of the SDS); and

  • HSNO regulatory information, including the HSNO approval number or title of the group standard, if relevant (Section 15 of the SDS).

Labeling requirements

New Zealand must ensure they provide labelling in accordance with the hazards of the substances and comply with labelling requirements, including ensuring that all relevant information is on the label, and that it is readily understandable, legible and durable.

The label must include the following information:

  • Hazards of the substance;

  • Disposal of the substance;

  • Emergency management, such as first aid;

  • Contact details of the importer or manufacturer in New Zealand; and

  • Any other information specified in the controls of the substance.

Compliant labels from Australia, EU, Canada, and USA are allowed to be used, as long as certain New Zealand specific information is also included. Required GHS label elements are:

  • Pictograms;

  • Signal word;

  • Hazard statements; and

  • Precautionary statements.

How to comply?

After the UN GHS Rev.7 and those amended notices have entered effect on April 30, 2021, enterprises shall comply with the followings depending on their situation to ensure that their hazard communication measures are compliance:

  • If the enterprise's hazardous substance is approved before April 30, 2021, the enterprise can continue to use its current labels, safety data sheets and packaging until April 30, 2025. However, the amended Importers and Manufacturers Notice, Hazardous Property Controls Notice, and Disposal Notice shall be followed after April 30, 2021.

  • For hazardous substances approved by a group standard there may be a small number of substances covered by a different group standard in comparison to now. This is due to minor differences between the HSNO classification and the GHS Rev. 7. As such, enterprises shall double check whether the group standard they are using is still valid. Substances managed under a group standard must also comply with the labelling, safety data sheet and packaging notices by April 30, 2025, regardless of when the substance was imported into or manufactured in New Zealand.

  • If the enterprise's hazardous substance is approved after April 30, 2021, the enterprise shall comply with all updated rules and use the UN GHS Rev.7 classifications on SDS.

Enterprises need to check what approval their substance is assigned to, especially for individual approvals, as some have changed and some no longer exist. The EPA has revoked more than 5,000 individual approvals as they can be managed under one or more group standards.

While most group standards have the same scope as the previous group standards a very small number, such as those for aerosols, have changed. Check the group standard that is currently assigned to the substance in question to ensure it is still appropriate.

If the individual approval an enterprise uses has been revoked, the EPA has suggested a group standard the substance in question may fit into. However, it’s possible that another group standard may be a better fit and enterprises should check this.

Enterprises must also ensure their self-assignment records are up to date as soon as possible after April 30, 2021. The EPA has not changed HSNO approval numbers so enterprises do not need to update these.

More information, including the new approval documents, can be accessed at the following pages:

Hazardous substance approvals

Group standards 2020