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Changes to how hazardous substances are managed

Changes to the way hazardous substances are managed are coming into force on 1 December 2017. From this date, there will be changes to the EPA's responsibilities in regulating hazardous substances. The biggest change is that most of the hazardous substance rules, still set under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, will be set out in EPA Notices, which are a new way to set rules. 

These Notices are of most relevance to people who import, manufacture or sell hazardous substances or use pesticides. 

We will no longer set the rules to protect people from workplace activities involving hazardous substances. These will be set under the new Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations, implemented by WorkSafe NZ.

More information about the changes can be found below.

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Updated 25 October 2017

Information updated

We've updated the information under the heading  The role of the EPA and WorkSafe from December 2017 below. We've also published an article about the health and safety role of the EPA and WorkSafe from December and a summary table showing who is responsible for different roles.

Labelling Notice and Hazardous Property Controls Notice now published

Our final two EPA Notices have been issued by the EPA Board. The Labelling Notice and the Hazardous Property Controls (HPC) Notice are now published under the heading EPA Notices below. All of these Notices will come into force on 1 December 2017.

Group standards are getting a facelift

We're updating the group standards so that they refer to the EPA Notices, and no longer refer to the workplace hazardous substance rules that are moving to the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017.

We've now published 29 draft group standards representing the different groups to show you how the changes are reflected. By 1 December 2017 we plan to have all of the group standards updated and published. 

Read more about the advisory and download the draft group standards

Read our group standard advisory document.

To support the new health and safety changes, many of the rules that are staying under the HSNO regime will be set out in EPA Notices. EPA Notices will make it easier for you to comply with the HSNO Act because they contain almost all of the rules you need to know about a particular subject – like labelling, for example – in one place.

They are also easier than regulations to update or amend so we – and you – can be more responsive to new developments and technologies.

By 1 December 2017 we will have 10 EPA Notices in force:

Hazardous Substances (Minimum Degrees of Hazard) Notice 2017 - not in force until 1 December 2017
Hazardous Substances (Classification) Notice 2017 - not in force until 1 December 2017
Hazardous Substances (Labelling) Notice 2017 - not in force until 1 December 2017
Hazardous Substances (Packaging) Notice 2017 - not in force until 1 December 2017
Hazardous Substances (Safety Data Sheets) Notice 2017 - not in force until 1 December 2017
Hazardous Substances (Forms and Information) Notice 2017 - not in force until 1 December 2017
Hazardous Substances (Disposal) Notice 2017 - not in force until 1 December 2017
Hazardous Substances (Hazardous Property Controls) Notice 2017 - not in force until 1 December 2017
Hazardous Substances (Importers and Manufacturers Information) Amendment Notice 2017 - note that the Hazardous Sustances (Importer and Manufacturer) Notice 2015 is currently in force
Hazardous Substances (Enforcement Officer Qualifications ) Notice 2015  - currently in force.

A note about our legal ability to make EPA Notices

Amendments to the HSNO Act made as part of the reform allow us to develop EPA Notices but some of these laws are not yet in force. We are able to develop Notices in anticipation under the Interpretation Act. The Notices will come into force the same day as the amendments to HSNO, which allow us to develop EPA Notices - on 1 December 2017.

New EPA Notices will apply at different times depending on approval

NOTE: Until the EPA Notices apply to your substance you must continue complying with existing rules (such as rules for labelling, safety data sheets and packaging) set under the HSNO Act and regulations.

Individual approvals

Other than certain rules set in the Hazardous Property Controls Notice, substances approved before 1 December 2017 do not need to comply with the new Notices until their approvals have been legally reissued. Once reissued, you will have a time period of between two and four years to comply with the new requirements in the Labelling, Safety Data Sheet and Packaging Notices.

New hazardous substances approved after 1 December 2017 will need to comply with all Notices immediately.

Group Standards

From 1 December 2017, all group standards will be reissued to remove workplace controls currently set under HSNO, and cross-refer to EPA Notices.

Hazardous substances allowed under an existing group standard will have four years to comply with the new Labelling, Safety Data Sheet and Packaging Notices. Therefore, these substances will need to be fully compliant by 1 December 2021.

Hazardous Property Controls Notice

The Hazardous Property Controls Notice combines several different types of rules from various regulations and substance approvals. It covers two main areas, rules that need to be followed:

  • to protect the general public when using and storing hazardous substances in non-workplaces
  • when using and storing hazardous substances that are known to be harmful to the environment (ecotoxic). These rules will apply in both workplaces and non-workplaces. Many of these rules relate to the use of agrichemicals.

Many of the rules in this Notice are intended to come into force on 1 December 2017, whether the approval has been reissued or not. This is because those rules make sure that all of the risks that are currently managed continue to be managed under the new regime.

Two EPA Notices are already in force:

Hazardous Substances (Importers and Manufacturers Information) Notice 2015

The Hazardous Substances (Importers and Manufacturers Information) Notice 2015 requires importers and manufacturers of hazardous substances to provide us with their business contact details. This notice has been in force since 2015.

Upcoming changes to this notice

This notice is being amended to require people importing explosives to obtain an import certificate from the EPA. This requirement is currently in the HSNO Tracking Regulations. The name of the notice has also been amended to remove the word “Information” from the title, i.e it will become the Hazardous Substances (Importers and Manufacturers) Notice 2015.These amendments will come into force on 1 December 2017.

Hazardous Substances (Enforcement Officer Qualifications) Notice 2015

​The Hazardous Substances (Enforcement Officer Qualifications) Notice 2015 sets out the training requirements that HSNO enforcement officers need to become qualified. These requirements are almost the same as those in the existing HSNO Personnel Qualifications Regulations, but have one notable change (see below).

What’s changed?

Prospective enforcement officers no longer need to have six months’ supervision under the guidance of a HSNO-warranted officer. The notice still requires some experience, but it’s not as prescriptive as the old requirements in the Personnel Qualifications Regulations.

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Minimum Degrees of Hazard Notice

The Minimum Degrees of Hazard Notice is essentially a copy of the existing Hazardous Substances (Minimum Degrees of Hazard) Regulations 2001. It sets out the levels of hazard a substance must have to be considered a hazardous substance under HSNO. If your substance is hazardous as defined in this Notice, you would then classify that substance according to the Classification Notice, below.

What will be changing

There will be some updates to referenced legislation.

What you will need to do differently

Nothing.

More information

The Classification Notice

The Classification Notice is essentially a copy of the current Hazardous Substances (Classification) Regulations 2001. It sets out the classification system for hazardous substances in New Zealand, and provides the criteria for each hazard classification.

What will be changing

There will be some updates to referenced legislation.

What you will need to do differently

Nothing.

More information


The Labelling Notice

The Labelling Notice sets the rules about what information must be included on the labels of hazardous substances. This Notice combines a number of rules currently spread across different sets of regulations, and is based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling (GHS) provisions.

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

What will be changing

The Labelling Notice requires the GHS pictograms, signal word, and hazard and precautionary statements to be on the label. This is a change from the current requirements of the Identification Regulations, but is similar to the labelling requirements for group standards. 

More information

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The Safety Data Sheets Notice

The Safety Data Sheets Notice sets the rules for the format and content of a safety data sheet (SDS). It is similar to the existing group standard provisions.

What will be changing

The Notice requires all SDSs to be in the 16-header GHS format. Either the HSNO or GHS classification must be provided in Section 2 of the SDS, along with the GHS signal word, and hazard and precautionary statements. Compared to current requirements, the Notice includes more details on the specific information required in some sections of the SDS.

The Notice will allow GHS-compliant SDSs from Australia, EU, Canada, and USA as long as some New Zealand specific information is also included.

More information


The Packaging Notice

The Packaging Notice sets the rules for the packaging of hazardous substances, including the rules for child-resistant packaging. This notice combines and updates rules currently set in the Hazardous Substances (Packaging) Regulations 2001 and group standards.

What will be changing

Some changes have been made to packaging requirements for some classifications so they better align with the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

The provisions for child-resistant packaging have been extended, but equivalent child-resistant packaging requirements from Australia, EU, Canada, and the USA will be allowable.

We’ve also incorporated two new provisions relating to misleading packaging of consumer goods.

More information

 

The Disposal Notice

The Disposal Notice sets the national minimum standard for the disposal of hazardous substances. It updates disposal provisions in the Hazardous Substances (Disposal) Regulations 2001 and group standards.

What will be changing

Minor changes have been made to the disposal requirements for some classifications. These either clarify ambiguous provisions or better align with the new HSW (Hazardous Substances) Regulations.

We’ve also incorporated a new provision to prohibit the disposal of halogenated organic substances (natural and synthetic chemicals that contain fluorine, chlorine, bromine, or iodine) by low-temperature incineration.

More information


The Hazardous Property Controls Notice

The Hazardous Property Controls Notice is a compilation of several different types of rules from various HSNO Regulations and substance approvals. It covers two main areas, rules that need to be followed:

  • to protect the general public when using and storing hazardous substances in non-workplaces
  • when using and storing hazardous substances that are known to be harmful to the environment (ecotoxic).These rules will apply in both workplaces and non-workplaces. Many of these rules relate to the use of agrichemicals.

What will be changing

This notice includes several rules to ensure there are no outstanding areas of risk as a result of the reforms. These are:

  • qualification requirements for users of highly ecotoxic pesticides in certain situations
  • rules to manage the risks from the storage and use of ecotoxic substances in workplaces
  • restriction on supply and use of certain highly hazardous substances to non-workplaces
  • rules for hazardous substances used or stored in non-workplaces
  • rules about stationary container systems for domestic oil burning installations
  • certification of non-workplaces storing more than 100 kg of LPG
  • rules for filling SCUBA cylinders in non-workplaces.

More information

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The Forms and Information Notice

The Forms and Information Notice sets out all the information you need to provide to the EPA if you are applying for an approval under the HSNO Act. It also includes a form for issuing compliance orders.

What will be changing

Most existing provisions of the Hazardous Substances (Forms and Information) Regulations 2001 have been moved – unchanged – into this Notice.

What you will need to do differently

Nothing.

More information


Group standards are getting a facelift

We're updating the group standards so that they refer to the EPA Notices, and no longer refer to the workplace hazardous substance rules that are moving to the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017. 

We've now published 29 draft group standards representing the different groups to show you how the changes are reflected. By 1 December 2017 we plan to have all of the group standards updated and published. 

Read more about the advisory and download the draft group standards

Read our group standard advisory document.

 

Updated 25 October 2017

The role of the EPA

From 1 December 2017 the EPA will continue to:

  • receive applications for hazardous substances, assess their risks, classify and decide whether they should be approved for use in New Zealand. We will also maintain existing group standards and issue new ones as necessary
  • carry out reassessments on approved hazardous substances
  • set rules in both workplaces and non-workplaces to protect the environment against hazardous substances
  • set rules in both workplaces and non-workplaces for the disposal of hazardous substances
  • set rules for the use, handling and storage of hazardous substances in non-workplace settings to protect New Zealanders generally
  • set rules that ensure hazardous substances are correctly labelled and packaged, and that specify the content and supply of safety data sheets.

Most of the rules will be set under EPA Notices, which are a new way to set rules under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO).

We’ll also have a new enforcement responsibility to make sure importers and manufacturers of hazardous substances:

  • have a HSNO approval for each of their substances
  • have the right label, packaging and safety data sheets for their hazardous substances
  • comply with the rules about allowable limits of certain hazardous substances within products
  • comply with the bans on persistent organic pollutants.

The role of WorkSafe

From 1 December 2017 the EPA will no longer set rules that protect those who use, handle, store or manufacture hazardous substances at work. These rules are being moved into the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) implemented by WorkSafe New Zealand. Under HSWA, WorkSafe will focus on the 'downstream' use, storage and handling of hazardous substances in workplaces.

Under HSNO, WorkSafe will enforce the ecotoxic and disposal requirements in the workplace.

Read more about the health and safety roles of WorkSafe and the EPA

View our summary table that gives an at-a-glance overview of these roles.

Hazardous substances application process update

On 1 December 2017 changes to the way hazardous substances are managed in New Zealand come into force. The biggest change is that the rules to protect people from work-related activities involving hazardous substances are shifting out of the HSNO Act and into the Health and Safety at Work Act. For applicants however, not much is changing.

Your role in the application process is not changing

Your role in the application process is not changing, you’ll still work with us at the EPA to apply for new hazardous substances approvals. We’ll still manage the application process but we will no longer set the rules to protect the health and safety of people from work-related activities involving hazardous substances. Most of these rules will be set in the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations (HSW HS regulations), overseen by WorkSafe New Zealand.

During the application process we’ll work collaboratively with WorkSafe and advise them of the findings from the risk assessment for the hazardous substance. From the risk assessment WorkSafe will determine if the requirements set in the HSW HS regulations will sufficiently manage the risks to people in workplaces when those requirements are followed.

In some situations WorkSafe may consider that additional requirements  are required to protect workers and other people from the potential harm of 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 additional requirements to those provided in the HSW HS regulations. SWIs have legal effect only to the extent that the regulations refer to them and they must be signed off by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety.

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

The vast majority of applications are unlikely to need new safe work instruments

The HSW HS regulations have been drafted to take into account controls that the EPA currently sets on substances in relation to work-related activities and human health. It is envisaged that the vast majority of applications will not need SWIs and it’s likely that you won’t notice any changes to the processing of your application.

Other information to note about approvals

Currently approved hazardous substances will remain approved

On 1 December 2017, when the new regime comes in to effect, all currently approved hazardous substances remain approved. They will also retain the same approval number.

Old or new regime – depends on decision date

Whether your substance is decided under the old or the new regime will depend on when the decision is made. If it’s decided after 1 December 2017, it will be decided under the new regime. If it is decided under the new regime the HSNO controls will be set out in the new EPA Notices. These replace the HSNO regulations for new substances. The hazardous substance rules relating to workplace health and safety will be set under the HSW Act and Regulations.

The HSWA and HSNO rules will be in the controls database

The EPA Approved Hazardous Substances with Controls Database will give you the rules you need to follow under both HSWA and HSNO so you will know what you need to do from 1 December.

Got questions? We’re here to help

If you’ve got questions about the changes you can email us at hsreform@epa.govt.nz

 Open consultations

This link sends you to the EPA open consultations page. There are no consultations open for new EPA Notices at present.

This page provides you with links to the consultation documents for our proposals for EPA Notices where the consultation period has closed, and links to the submissions we received.

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