Labelling

Labels are placed on hazardous substances containers so that people, including workers and emergency services personnel, know what's inside and can take the correct precautionary measures.

It’s never safe to have hazardous substances in unlabelled, or incorrectly labelled, containers. And never put hazardous substances in food or drink containers, even if they're labelled. People can get confused about what’s in the container and eat or drink the content by mistake.

Labelling requirements include for:

  • substances that have come from a supplier and are therefore already labelled
  • substances that you decant or transfer into a smaller container at your workplace
  • stationary tanks, process containers and transportable containers
  • hazardous waste

What are my responsibilities around the products I buy that already have labels?

Manufacturers and suppliers are responsible for correctly labelling the products they sell you. Information for manufacturers and suppliers is available on the environmental protection authority (EPA) website(external link).

If you are supplied with hazardous substances you must make sure that the label is maintained; that it stays on the container and can be read.

If you manufacture hazardous substances for your own business – that is, not intended for supply outside the workplace - you must label your containers.

What do I have to do if I decant or transfer a hazardous substance into another container?

We recommend that you keep the substance in the supplier’s original container unless you need to transfer it for a good reason. If you decant or transfer substances from a large container into smaller ones (eg for ease of use), the containers must be labelled.

Labels must be in English and include:

  • the product name or chemical name; and
  • a hazard pictogram and hazard statement consistent with the substance’s classification.

How do I label stationary tanks, process containers and transportable containers?

As well as the product name or chemical name; and hazard pictogram and hazard statement, there are some extra requirements for these types of containers:

  • Stationary tanks and process containers containing class 1 – 5 substances must also include the steps required to prevent unintended explosion, ignition, combustion, acceleration of fire or thermal decomposition.
  • Transportable containers must be accompanied by labelling as specified in land transport, maritime and civil aviation laws (on or near the container).

What if I create a hazardous waste product?

Containers of hazardous waste must also be labelled. This may sound difficult if it’s not a recognised ‘product’ and you don’t know the precise hazardous properties. Your label will need to be in English and:

  • identify, as closely as possible, the nature of the waste (for example, chlorinated solvent waste, flammable waste); and
  • the name, address and business phone number of the producer of the waste (if known); and
  • a hazard pictogram and hazard statement consistent with the classification of the waste (if known) based on its known or likely constituents. 

What if I’m putting a substance into a container for immediate use?

Sometimes a hazardous substance is to be used so soon after it has been put into a container that it’s impracticable to label it. If it’s for immediate use then labelling is not required. However, the container must be thoroughly cleaned immediately afterwards, removing all potentially hazardous residue.

Find out more

See our quick guide:

Labelling, decanting and repackaging hazardous substances in the workplace - quick guide (PDF 399 KB)

For additional guidance:

Your practical guide to working with hazardous substances(external link)

New rules for hazardous substances: Changes to the regulations for hazardous substances in the workplace (PDF 316 KB)

Changes to hazardous substances regulations (PDF 71 KB)