What rules have changed?

On 1 December 2017, some new rules for hazardous substances came into effect. Find out how this affects you.

Over recent years, the regulations for managing hazardous substances were reformed to further protect New Zealanders from harm. The changes mean that the EPA and WorkSafe New Zealand work together to ensure these substances are managed safely.

See our summary table below showing the responsibilities of the EPA and Worksafe New Zealand.

Summary of EPA and WorkSafe New Zealand responsibilities (PDF 82KB)

How the EPA can help you Plus

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 the disposal rules for hazardous substances.

To ensure your management of a hazardous substance complies with the rules, we have developed and published EPA Notices. These consolidate and simplify many of these rules and replace many of the regulations currently under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO). E​PA Notices are also easier than regulations to update or amend so we—and you—can be more responsive to new developments and technologies.

We are also responsible for enforcing the rules for importers, manufacturers and suppliers of hazardous substances.

Got questions? We are here to help. If you have questions about the changes since 1 December 2017, you can email us.

How WorkSafe New Zealand can help you Plus

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 Act (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 (available on the New Zealand Legislation website). 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, which are set under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO)
  • provides information and tools to help businesses understand their obligations. 

There is more information on the WorkSafe New Zealand website. 

Additional EPA Notices Plus

The EPA can set hazardous substance rules under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. 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 the EPA 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. 

A number of new EPA Notices came into force on 1 December 2017.

New timeframes for individual approvals of substances Plus

If the hazardous substance in your product was approved for use before 1 December 2017, your product will remain approved, with the same approval number, until that approval is legally reissued. 

Once re-issued, you will have between two and four years to comply with the new requirements in the EPA Notices on Labelling, Safety Data Sheets and Packaging. However, you must comply with the Disposal Notice immediately upon re-issue of your approval. 

Hazardous substances approved for use after 1 December 2017 must comply with all of the EPA Notices immediately.

Note that regardless of when the substance was approved for use, you will need to comply with some rules in the EPA Notice on Hazardous Property Controls from 1 December 2017 onwards.

See our summary of timeframes below for more information on which rules need to be complied with, and when.

Timeframes for 2017 Group Standards Plus

Group standards are approvals for a group of hazardous substances of a similar nature, type or use. A group standard sets out conditions that enable a group of hazardous substances to be managed safely.  

The 2017 group standards​ have been updated to align with the new regulatory regime introduced on 1 December 2017 and the EPA Notices. 

If your hazardous substance is assigned to a group standard, you will have four years, until 1 December 2021, to comply with the new requirements in the EPA Notices for packaging, labelling and safety data sheets. However, you will need to comply with the Disposal Notice and the Hazardous Property Controls Notice immediately, i.e. from 1 December 2017.

See the summary of timeframes below, and the section on EPA Notices, for what you need to do to comply. Where there are differences between the rules set in an EPA Notice and what is required under a group standard, the group standard provides specific information about these differences. ​

Summary of timeframes for compliance with EPA Notices Plus

There are some important dates by which you need to comply with the EPA Notices. These are listed in this Summary table.

Summary of timeframes for compliance with EPA Notices (pdf 11KB)

Use our controls database so you know what rules you need to follow.

Approved Hazardous Substances with Controls database

Changes to the process for new approvals for hazardous substances Plus

Your role in the application process for approvals for hazardous substances is not changing. You will still work with us at the EPA to apply for new hazardous substances approvals.

We will manage the application process but after 1 December 2017, but we will no longer set the rules for work-related health and safety activities involving hazardous substances. Most of these rules will be set by WorkSafe New Zealand.

This means that during the application process, we will work collaboratively with WorkSafe and advise them about the risk assessment for the hazardous substance. From the risk assessment, WorkSafe will check if the requirements in the regulations will manage the risks to people in workplaces sufficiently.

In some situations, WorkSafe New Zealand may decide that additional requirements are needed to protect workers and other people from the potential harm from a substance. In this case, they may advise the EPA that a Safe Work Instrument (SWI) should be developed to address the work-related human health risks identified. An SWI may modify or set some additional requirements to those provided in the regulations. We'll keep you informed if an SWI is needed. 

If an SWI is required, WorkSafe will need time to develop one and to obtain the Minister’s agreement before the substance can be approved. This process will take time to complete and you will be advised if additional time is needed to process your application.

Public consultation during these changes Plus

Consultation on the classification, labelling, safety data sheets and packaging of hazardous substances

December 2014

We publicly consulted on proposed notices for classification, labelling, packaging and safety data sheets. The consultation document was made available on our website and was also sent to relevant people. We received 80 submissions.

Read the December 2014 classification, labelling, safety data sheets, packaging consultation document (PDF 612kB)

September 2016

We publicly consulted on our updated classification proposal and provided updates to proposals for the labelling, safety data sheets, and packaging rules. The consultation document was made available on the EPA website and was also sent to relevant people.

Our updated classification proposal was to defer a decision on whether to update the current hazardous substance classification system to a more recent version of the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling (GHS). We deferred this decision to ensure that the EPA could meet the goal of making changes to the HSNO framework, and to ensure that the public received the full benefit of the Working Safer Reforms within Government timeframes. We received 37 submissions.

Read the September 2016 consultation document (PDF 1.1MB)

Consultation on the disposal of hazardous substances

July 2016

We publicly consulted on a proposed notice for the disposal of hazardous substances. The consultation document was made available on our website and was also sent to relevant people. We received a total of 44 submissions.

Read the consultation document (PDF 1.46MB)

Consultation on proposals to protect the general public and environment from hazardous substances

October 2016

We called for submissions on proposals to protect the general public and the environment from hazardous substances. The consultation document covered rule proposals for substances toxic to the environment and the availability, storage and use of hazardous substances outside of the workplace, in places such as the home. We received 57 submissions.

Read the consultation document (PDF 1.26Mb)

March 2017

We updated our consultation document and released an exposure draft of a Hazardous Property Controls Notice proposing rules to protect the general public and the environment from hazardous substances.  We received 64 submissions.

Read the March 2017 consultation document (PDF 2.08MB)

June 2017

In June 2017 a further consultation document was released for the Hazardous Property Controls Notice. This document proposed changes for managing hazardous substances on board New Zealand and foreign-flagged vessels and aircraft that are in transit through New Zealand to another jurisdiction. We received five submissions

Read the June 2017 consultation document  (MS Word, 1.0MB)

Consultation on Forms and Information for hazardous substances

September 2016

We publicly consulted on a proposed Notice for Forms and Information was released for public consultation on 19 September 2016. The consultation document was made available on the EPA website and was also sent to relevant people. We received five submissions. 

Read the consultation document (PDF 175kB)

Consultation on provision of importer and manufacturer information for hazardous substances

March 2015

We consulted on a proposal for an EPA Notice requiring importers and manufacturers to provide us with their business contact details. We received 39 submissions.

Read the consultation document (PDF 440kB)

September 2016

We consulted on a proposal to amend the Importers and Manufactures Notice to include the requirement for importers of explosive substances to apply to the EPA for an import certificate.

Read the consultation document (PDF 112 kB)

Consultation on enforcement officer qualifications for hazardous substances

December 2014

We consulted on our proposal for an EPA Notice setting the requirements for the qualifications needed for someone to be appointed as a hazardous substance enforcement officer under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. The consultation document was made available on our website and was also sent to relevant people. We received 10 submissions.

Read the consultation document (PDF 121kB)