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Chemical Safety in Schools

Chemical safety is an important issue for schools. 

All schools need to manage hazardous chemicals as per the WHS Regulations. This includes maintaining a hazardous chemicals register and holding current Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for each hazardous chemical and ensuring all containers are appropriately labelled.

Some examples of where you may find chemicals in schools:

Staff areas and kitchens - washing up liquid, dishwasher chemicals.
Laboratories -  various laboratory chemicals.
Art classrooms - paints, solvents, glues.
Technical classrooms - solvents, stains, glues. 
Photography dark rooms - developers, fixatives.
Cleaner's storerooms - cleaning detergents, bleaches, drain cleaners.
Maintenance sheds / rooms - petrol, paints, spray paints, oils.
Swimming pools - acids, chlorine.

GHS Update - May 2016

SafeWork NSW have issued some updated documents on becoming GHS compliant that reflect changes to the WHS Regulation which are yet to be passed, and affect the re-labelling of current stocks of chemicals.

The Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals is a new system, which replaces the existing system for classifying hazardous substances and dangerous goods in the workplace. NSW businesses have until 31 December 2016 to become GHS ready. 

Safe Work Australia has agreed to amend the regulations 341 and 342 of the WHS Regulation 2011 to allow existing NOHSC labelled chemicals to be kept by end-users past 31 December 2016 without re-labelling.

For schools and in particular science departments, this means there is no longer a requirement as an end user, to re-label the existing stock purchased prior to 1 January 2017. However, the stock does still need to be labelled in accordance with the previous legislation and NOHSC : 2012 Code of Practice. This does not affect the requirement to have up-dated Safety Data Sheets that reflect GHS.

Science and Technology

The Science K-10 syllabus, which incorporates Science and Technology K- 6, states that "A student's sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural and made world is fostered through actively engaging in the processes of Working Scientifically and Working Technologically". While schools foster learning through practical activities, they must also meet work health and safety (WHS) obligations as a business.

The Science and Technology WHS Risk Management and Assessment for Practical Activities Guideline has been written to support teachers and schools to provide the best learning experiences in a safe working environment. 

An example of a risk assessment template is provided in word format to support the recording and documenting of the risk management process in the context of science and technology. 

Guidance

We have developed some guidance documents and checklists which may assist schools in managing the risks associated with hazardous chemicals in the workplace.


Chemwatch GoldFFX

AIS provides member schools with access to the Chemwatch program GoldFFX. The program is used for managing chemicals and contains a database of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), both the vendor SDS and Chemwatch's generic ones.

Web address:
https://jr.chemwatch.net/chemwatch.web

The existing school user identification and password can be accessed by the principal when logged into the AIS website at 'My Profile' > 'ChemFFX Credentials'.
Hazardous Chemicals  videos

Australia is currently transitioning to a globally harmonised system of classification and labelling of chemicals referred to as GHS, and Schools will need to comply with this change by 31 December 2016. These training videos are to assist Heads of Schools and Senior Executives to begin to understand the compliance requirements of hazardous chemicals as set out by the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

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For further online training modules including Basic Induction for all staff, and an advanced module for staff who manage chemicals, visit Courses and Events/Workplace Management.

Chemical Safety in Schools (CSIS) Package

The AIS has negotiated with the DET to make the CSIS package available in PDF format. As this document was written with reference to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000, Hazardous Substances Regulation 1996 and Dangerous Goods legislation; care should be taken to review this in line with the new Work Health and Safety Act and Regulation 2011 and pending changes to the Globally Harmonised System for the Classification and Labelling of Hazardous Chemicals. Refer to legislation links above.

Sections 2.1 -2.3 and Appendix C relate to the use of the CD's that were provided with the package. Due to technology changes and the age of this document these are no longer relevant and the sections are not found included herein. Chemwatch GoldFFX is the latest software package and is available for member school's use as per above.