Following the rules

Find out what you need to do to comply with the rules around hazardous substances.

The EPA works with WorkSafe New Zealand to ensure hazardous substances are managed safely.

Read the long description of the image 

Download and print out the diagram (PDF, 82KB)

All hazardous substances must have be covered by a HSNO approval. You must also comply with any workplace regulations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 at all times.

Classification system for hazardous substances

On 30 April 2021, New Zealand updated its classification system for hazardous substances to one based on the seventh revised edition of the Globally Harmonised System (GHS 7).

There is a four-year transitional period to comply with the updated labelling, safety data sheets and packaging notices. Further information on this transitional period is outlined below.

New Zealand's hazard classification system

Individual approvals issued before 30 April 2021

If your hazardous substance was approved before 30 April 2021, you can continue to comply with the current labelling, safety data sheets and packaging requirements until 30 April 2025. We strongly encourage you to update your labels and safety data sheets to comply with the new requirements sooner rather than later.

You must make sure you follow all other rules immediately after 30 April 2021. These rules include the content of the:

  • Hazardous Substances (Importers and Manufacturers) Notice 2015
  • Hazardous Substances (Hazardous Property Controls) Notice 2017
  • Hazardous Substances (Disposal) Notice 2017.

Some GHS classifications have not been adopted. That means some substances that used to be approved may no longer be classified as hazardous after 30 April 2021, for example, a substance that only has a 6.3B classification. 

See more about hazardous substance approvals

Individual approvals issued after 30 April 2021

If your substance is approved after 30 April 2021, you must follow all updated rules from the date the substance is approved. This includes using the GHS 7 classifications on safety data sheets.

If your substance is approved under a group standard

If you import or manufacture a substance currently covered by a group standard, you will need to assign each substance a GHS classification and check that the substance still fits within the scope of its current group standard.

Due to some differences between the old HSNO classifications and GHS 7, there may be a small number of substances that need to be moved to a different group standard. This mainly affects aerosols. For example, an aerosol that was not classified as a 2.1.2A flammable aerosol under the previous classification system, may be classified as flammable under GHS 7. Such a substance will need to be moved from a non-flammable aerosol group standard to a relevant flammable aerosol group standard.

In cases such as this where a substance is covered by a different group standard, you will need to create a new record of assignment. You will also need to update the HSNO approval number in Section 15 of the safety data sheet.

As part of updating your safety data sheets and labels, you should check whether the group standard you are using is still appropriate.

EPA and WorkSafe: who does what

We are responsible for approving all hazardous substances for use in New Zealand, and for setting the rules to protect the environment and people in non-workplaces. We also set rules at the top of the supply chain to ensure hazardous substances are appropriately labelled and packaged, and that safety data sheets have the right information on them, as well as setting rules for the disposal of hazardous substances. We are also responsible for enforcing the rules for importers, manufacturers and suppliers of hazardous substances. 

EPA notices

We can set hazardous substance rules under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996. These are detailed in EPA notices. EPA notices are approved by the EPA Board rather than going through Cabinet. This allows the notices to be updated quickly, allowing us to keep up to date with international and technological changes. Although they are approved by the EPA Board, proposed EPA notices must go through a public consultation period. 

Find out more about EPA notices

Hazardous substances in the workplace

WorkSafe New Zealand enforces the rules relating to the use, handling and storage of hazardous substances in the workplace under the Health & Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017. 

WorkSafe New Zealand also:

  • implements the rules by providing guidance, managing the compliance certification regime, and developing more detailed and technical rules for some hazardous substances
  • enforces the ecotoxic and disposal requirements in the workplace
  • provides information and tools to help businesses understand their obligations. 

More information on the WorkSafe New Zealand website

Public consultation during changes to EPA notices

Public consultations were held on the proposed EPA Notices, which gave people chance to have their say.

You can read all documentation relating to the EPA notices consultations, including the consultation documents, the submissions received, and analyses of the submissions.

EPA notices consultations

Public consultations were held on the proposal to adopt GHS 7 in two parts, which gave people chance to have their say.

You can read all documentation relating to the GHS 7, including the consultation documents, the submissions received, and analyses of the submissions.