What rules have changed?

Rules for hazardous substances have changed. Find out how this affects you.

On 30 April 2021, the seventh revised edition of the Globally Harmonised System (GHS 7) will be New Zealand’s official hazard classification system. 

Find out more about GHS 7 and what it means for you

These changes also include changes for timelines to comply with EPA notices and GHS 7. 

Find out more about when you need to comply with these changes 

Over recent years, the regulations for managing hazardous substances were reformed to further protect New Zealanders from harm. The changes mean that from 1 December 2017 we're working with WorkSafe New Zealand 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)

Further information about the responsibilities of the EPA and WorkSafe New Zealand and what that means for you are available on this page.

How we 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 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.

These rules are set in a series of EPA notices. They consolidate and simplify many of the rules that used to be set in regulations made under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO). EPA notices are 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.

If you have questions about the changes, you can email us at info@epa.govt.nz.

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 (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017. The regulations are 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. 

EPA notices Plus

We 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 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. 

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

These EPA Notices were updated to implement GHS 7.

Find out more about the update EPA Notices.

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.

From 1 May 2021, applications submitted to us should include GHS 7 classifications rather than HSNO classifications.

You will be aware we no longer set the rules for work-related health and safety activities involving hazardous substances. Most of these rules are 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

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.

GHS 7 Consultation 1

GHS 7 Consultation 2