In late 2015, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources appointed Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. (Deloitte) to review the effect of work health and safety (WHS) legislation on agricultural chemicals and veterinary medicines (agvet chemicals).
The Deloitte review was finalised and published in late 2016. It focused on the possible duplication of effort and unnecessary costs associated with an incoming regulatory requirement for agvet chemical products to comply with both WHS legislation and agvet chemical legislation. This included the potential for duplication of information in product label statements.
The review and its findings are described in two reports.
Chemical Labelling Duplication Review Report
Desktop assessment of international approaches to incorporating the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals in agricultural and veterinary chemicals regulation
The response from the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources to the findings of the Deloitte review is
If you need further information about:
- GHS labelling requirements for hazardous workplace chemical products in your state or territory, contact the work health and safety authority near you.
- National GHS labelling requirements, contact
Safe Work Australia
- Mandatory labelling requirements for agricultural chemicals and veterinary medicines, contact the
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
- Australian policy for access to safe agvet chemicals, contact the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources on Ph: +61 2 6272 3324.
Information about the United Nations’ Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is available at
Background to the Chemical Labelling Duplication Review
Until 1 January 2017, state and territory WHS legislation recognised that the label particulars required and approved under longstanding agvet chemical legislation were sufficient to comply with workplace requirements for agricultural and veterinary (agvet)chemical labelling.
Model WHS law now requires the labels of all agricultural chemicals and veterinary medicines used principally in workplaces (including farms) to display statements relating to the intrinsic hazards of the product and include the standardised ‘precautionary statements’ (safety messages) associated with those hazards.
These statements, which are based on the United Nation’s Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, are now required by WHS authorities in addition to the label particulars that are separately required under existing agvet chemical legislation.
In December 2015, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources appointed Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. to review possible duplication of effort and unnecessary costs in relation to agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemical products that arise from complying with both work health and safety legislation and agvet chemical legislation.
The review does not change the new WHS labelling requirements which took effect on 1 January 2017. Manufacturers and importers of agvet chemicals should be aware of this and prepare accordingly for any changes to labelling requirements.
Conduct of the Review
The duplication review was conducted under regulation 80E of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Regulations 1995.
Under its terms of reference, Deloitte was required to:
- identify any duplication of effort for products from complying with both work health and safety legislation and agvet chemical legislation
- identify options to streamline and improve the regulation of work health and safety for agvet chemical products
- analyse the costs, benefits and other consequences of these options for the safe use of agvet chemical products
- make recommendations for preferred options that are within the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority’s functions and powers, for preferred options to address any identified duplication and improve the regulation of work health and safety in relation to chemical products.
Summary of findings
The Review report describes relevant aspects of both the WHS and agvet chemical regulatory frameworks, and explains the different (hazard vs. risk-based) approaches to safety that they apply. It found that both the agvet chemical and WHS legislative systems act, among other things, to protect the health and safety of workers throughout the supply chain and the community. Deloitte noted that these two legislative regimes differ significantly in their objectives, operation and enforcement.
The review identified some duplication of effort and associated costs arising from the need to comply with both work health and safety legislation and agvet chemicals legislation.
Deloitte confirmed that the agvet chemical regulatory system considers chronic (long-term) and acute (short-term) health effects and physicochemical effects (such as flammability or corrosiveness). It considers the potential for exposure to a product or its residues during handling (including transport, storage and processing), use and after application, including disposal of product and containers. Risk management measures such as engineering controls, safety directions, use restraints, scheduling recommendations and requirements for the use of personal protective equipment reduce identified risks to an acceptable level. If risks cannot be sufficiently reduced, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority will refuse registration for that product.
Deloitte estimated that the direct costs to the chemical industry for complying with WHS requirements to be roughly $15.0–15.8 million. It concluded that adding WHS label statements would have a small benefit for worker safety. The main beneficiaries would be a group of workers in the supply chain familiar with handling other chemicals and so may expect to find WHS statements on agvet labels. Deloitte also felt that the additional label statements may benefit some users who illegally disobey safety instructions. Deloitte did not consider other users to be as likely to benefit from the additional label information, as they were able to rely on existing label content.
Deloitte queried why veterinary medicines, particularly those whose use involves a qualified veterinary professional, are subject to the GHS label requirements. Deloitte also noted that it would be advantageous for SWA and WHS regulators to communicate with and support industry in relation to the GHS labelling requirements; that it would be valuable to schedule a post-implementation review of the introduction of the GHS label statements, and that it would be useful for SWA and WHS regulators to clarify the labelling requirements outlined in the WHS Regulation for stock held in workplaces, which was supplied before 1 January 2017.
Deloitte made four recommendations, which are constrained by regulation to matters within the APVMA’s ‘functions and powers’. The recommendations are that:
- The APVMA should continue to work with SWA to assist industry to determine which WHS statements are equivalent to APVMA-approved agvet chemical labelling statements to minimise duplication.
- Where appropriate, the APVMA should take WHS labelling into account in consideration of any future changes to agvet chemical labelling requirements.
- The APMVA should apply any discretion it has to permit manufacturers of veterinary chemical producers the choice of being able to ‘re-stick’ any new labelling on agvet chemical products at the point of supply without the need for current stock to be returned to the manufacturer for relabelling in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practice.
- The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, the APVMA, and the Department of Employment should continue to support SWA and its members’ communications and information flow regarding the labelling changes to manufacturers, importers, suppliers and agvet industry users and handlers.
For the purposes of this review:
- ‘agricultural and veterinary chemicals legislation’ means the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code, the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Regulations 1995, the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Products (Collection of Levy) Act 1994 and regulations made under that Act, and the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 and relevant regulations.
- ‘Work health and safety legislation’ means legislation that user industries must comply with that is enacted as required by the Intergovernmental Agreement for Regulatory and Operational Reform in Occupational Health and Safety made by the Council of Australian Governments on 3 July 2008.
Submissions and consultation
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu consulted directly with stakeholders during the review process and sought feedback and submissions from relevant government agencies, industry stakeholders and the public. The call for submissions closed on 30 May 2016, and the submissions received may be found below:
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Two submissions were received after the closing date. The extent to which these were considered was a matter of discretion for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
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Note: All views expressed in the submissions above are those of the individuals or organisations making them. The publication of these submissions should not be taken as an endorsement by the Australian Government or the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources of any views or opinions expressed. The Australian Government does not accept liability for any breaches of the authors’ copyright. Copyright in submission rests with the authors of each submission. The submissions listed above were not prepared by the department and do not meet Australian Government accessibility guidelines. If you require an accessible version of the submission, please
contact the department.