Category Archives: Agar News

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the TGA & the ARTG

Over the last few weeks, almost undoubtedly relating to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, we have received many enquiries about products that carry an ARTG ID number, and ultimately, what the purpose of an ARTG ID number is. Unfortunately, government websites typically don’t have the most user-friendly layouts and it often becomes a daunting and time-consuming task to filter through to the right information.

In response, we have decided to create a comprehensive guide to help our customers make more informed decisions for their businesses by understanding the relationship between the TGA and the ARTG, and how products can still be effective without a listing.

The TGA & the ARTG

There seems to be some confusion surrounding what the ARTG is and the importance of having an ARTG ID number, so let’s start from the beginning and get a clear understanding of the organisation that deals with these issues.

What is the TGA?

According to their website, the “Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is part of the Australian Government Department of Health, and is responsible for regulating therapeutic goods including prescription medicines, vaccines, sunscreens, vitamins and minerals, medical devices, and blood-related products.”

“Almost any product for which therapeutic claims are made must be entered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) before it can be supplied in Australia.”

Essentially, if a company is making a specific therapeutic claim about how the product benefits its human users (yes, “human” is specified!), then it is subject to the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and must go on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

What is the ARTG?

The Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) is as its name suggests – a register of therapeutic goods that can be lawfully supplied in Australia, regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The ARTG is a searchable database that provides publicly available assurance that the product does what it claims.

Before the end of 2018, disinfectants needed to be registered on the ARTG and subsequently had an ARTG ID number. The rules have now changed such that products need only be registered if there are specific therapeutic claims about a product’s performance. However, if a product is making a more general claim (such as, “kills germs and bacteria”), then it need only adhere to those specific requirements necessary to verify that particular claim.

A little unclear? Well, that’s bureaucracy for you. Read on for further clarification.

General Claims VS Specific Claims

Like all chemical solutions, the product you choose should be dependent on the problem you’d like to solve. As such, it is important to understand the need for a specific therapeutic claim, and how it stacks up against a general claim.

A good set of examples close to home is from two of our very own hospital-grade disinfectants, CounterFlu and Tango.

We currently only have one product that actually needs to be listed on the ARTG and that’s CounterFlu (with an ARTG ID 332361). CounterFlu is a virucidal, hospital-grade disinfectant that has been microbiologically tested and proven to kill various viruses, germs, bacteria, moulds, and fungi, with its most notable capabilities killing coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 virus). When you visit the Product Data Sheet (PDS), you’ll notice CounterFlu has a very specific claim against a range of viruses, bacteria, and germs that must be approved by the TGA before we’re able to advertise accordingly.

With the new changes for the register, Tango was but is no longer listed on the ARTG, nor does it have an ARTG ID number despite still maintaining its powerful disinfecting status. Under previous TGA rules, Tango was listed on the ARTG simply because it qualified as a hospital-grade disinfectant (a general therapeutic claim). Being listed meant it carried the ID number 104423. The rules have since changed such that only disinfectants with claims against specific bacteria or viruses can be listed on the ARTG. Again, this is because claims that a disinfectant has an effect against a specific virus must be expressly permitted by the TGA before being used in consumer advertising – including on the label – to avoid misleading.

Here is where most of the confusion seems to be for our customers: are products still effective if they don’t have an ARTG listing? Since we don’t make specific claims about Tango, it no longer needs to be listed on the ARTG, and thus the listing has lapsed. Tango is still an effective hospital-grade disinfectant, however, and can be advertised as such because it has been successfully tested for a general claim against a range and level of bacteria specified by the TGA for ‘hospital-grade’ disinfection.

Now that we have a better understanding of the relationship between the TGA and the ARTG, as well as the importance of specific claims of therapeutic goods, we can move on to more practical questions.

How does the TGA help protect consumers?

Well, typically when we see therapeutic goods on the shelves of stores, we are oblivious to the verification processes these products must go through before they can be sold in Australia.

The TGA helps stop the spread of misinformation by eliminating misrepresentation of facts (intentional or otherwise) and is intended to help keep consumers safe from wrongful claims.

In the case of our previous example, Tango, this was done by adhering to the stringent criteria of laboratory testing needed for a successful general claim of ‘hospital-grade’ disinfection. Although Tango no longer has an ARTG ID number, it maintains its status of ‘hospital-grade’ as it has passed all necessary tests set forth by the TGA and thus has been granted permission to market the product accordingly.

Contrastingly, although CounterFlu is a hospital-grade disinfectant too, it goes one step further and is listed on the ARTG because it has verified claims that it kills specific viruses like COVID-19 virus or Human Influenza Virus (common flu).

This verification process obliges companies to market products as truthfully as possible to avoid any misrepresentation of facts and mislead Australian consumers.


So, what can you do with this information? Well, with over 50 years of experience in manufacturing quality chemical solutions, we want to share our knowledge so we can all make the most informed decisions.

Hopefully, this comprehensive guide to understanding the TGA and the ARTG has helped you identify with confidence that products don’t necessarily need an ARTG ID number to be effective.

However, if you have a specific therapeutic benefit you want to get out of using a product (e.g. killing COVID-19 virus with a disinfectant or protecting yourself from UV rays with sunscreen), then the publicly searchable ARTG ID number can provide the much-needed assurance that the product has verified its claim to the highest degree set forth by a branch of the Australian Government Department of Health, the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

What Are VOCs & Are They Harmful?

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a group of carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature, altering air quality and posing multiple health risks. Many household items such as paints, polishes, and cleaners emit VOCs, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects.

Common Sources of VOCs

Common household products containing VOCs include:

  • cleansers and disinfectants
  • moth repellents and air fresheners
  • aerosol sprays
  • paints, paint strippers and other solvents
  • wood preservatives
  • stored fuels and automotive products
  • hobby supplies
  • dry-cleaned clothing
  • pesticides

As with most pollutants, the extent of the health effect will depend on many factors including exposure level and exposure duration.

Are VOCs harmful?

Different VOCs have different effects on our health, and exposure duration is commonly a critical factor in determining how harmful they can be. Although many VOCs can be found naturally in the environment, there are different VOCs with different levels of toxicity ranging from no known effects at all to highly toxic – even carcinogenic. Inhaling VOCs can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and may also cause difficulty breathing.

Indoor concentrations of VOCs can be up to ten times higher than outdoors. Therefore, even breathing low levels of VOCs for a prolonged period has shown to cause issues in some individuals – most notably those with asthma.

As today (May 5th) is World Asthma Day, we feel it is our duty here at Agar to bring attention to such an alarming condition afflicting so many Australians every day.

VOCs & Asthma

Asthma is a condition whereby the individual may have difficulty breathing, chest pain or tightness, coughs, and wheezing. When people with asthma are exposed to VOCs, their symptoms can be exacerbated and cause them to flare up.

If you (like me) don’t suffer from asthma, it can be hard to imagine the daily inconvenience and struggles for an automated process we take for granted. To help paint a picture, here is how many sufferers describe the daily symptoms of asthma:

  • Having constantly itchy lungs
  • Trying to breathe through a straw stuffed with cotton
  • Either a dull ache or a sharp stabbing in the chest
  • Like someone sitting on your chest and not getting up

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2017-2018 there were approximately 2,700,000 Australians who had asthma. This is approximately 1 in 9 Australians. There were also 389 asthma-related deaths in 2018 – that is more than one person’s life lost every day of the year.

How to minimise risk?

With VOCs so prevalent in so many different products, it is an extremely difficult task to limit exposure to these harmful toxins. And considering we spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and 48 weeks a year at work, it’s a conversation that is too important to neglect. But don’t panic! There are a few different ways you can minimise your risk.

Risks of indoor air pollution can be lowered by adequate ventilation as well as through the use of environmentally-preferable building materials, common house/office items, and cleaning products.

Your best option to see immediate results is to replace the products in your office’s arsenal to those with low-VOCs. Many of our products are specially formulated from raw materials that were chosen for their low-VOC emitting properties which drastically improves indoor air quality when cleaning. This makes the entire cleaning process safer for the inhabitants of the building, and the cleaners themselves.

Whether you’re a cleaning agency looking to add extra value to your service, or a worker looking to improve the general health and well-being of the office, raise the attention to your supervisor and get the conversation started. Trust me, your lungs will thank you.

Sources & References:

Coronavirus COVID-19 Crisis – Everything You Need to Know

Agar Update 17.07.2020

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve, our team at Agar is still working hard to ensure the regular supply of trusted high quality products to our clients. Fortunately some consistency has returned to our supply chain and this has been reflected in our improved order fulfilment.

Our warehouses in NSW, QLD & SA along with many distributors have had restrictions eased, but now with the second wave of the virus in Victoria where our main factory is located, we must adhere to the latest higher restrictions. In any case, thanks to the efforts of our amazing team we have been able to keep production running at steady capacity as we continue to play our part in helping Australia work through this by providing supply to essential healthcare and cleaning services.

As always we are very grateful to our loyal clients for their understanding and support during these challenging times. We wish all Australians, and the rest of the world, safety and good health.

We are committed to keeping our clients informed and we’ll keep you posted should the situation change.

Stay safe, be informed.

– Agar Team

Agar Update 31.03.2020

During this COVID-19 crisis, Agar has made an active effort to continue the regular supply of goods to our clients to reduce the negative impact we all face, but as the situation progresses with panic buying, extraordinary demand, and low stocks, we have had to adapt.

Unfortunately in these unpredictable times, the fall of the Australian dollar coupled with the rising scarcity of the raw materials needed to produce our cleaning products has caused production delays, increased expenses, and various limitations.

We have increased our production and will continue to ensure we play our part in helping Australia work through this by prioritising supply to essential services on the frontlines of the pandemic like our hospitals and healthcare facilities. We are working as best we can to ensure we clear our remaining backlog of orders as quickly as possible to get you the products you need.

We are very grateful to our loyal clients for their understanding and support during these challenging times. We wish all Australians, and the rest of the world, safety and good health.

Stay safe, be informed.

“Together we can will get through this.”

– Agar Team

What is the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is the latest discovery in the coronavirus family. Coronaviruses are part of a large family of viruses that can cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses can cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

COVID-19 was discovered after an outbreak began in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.

How does it spread?

On February 7 2020, Chinese researchers said the virus could have spread from an infected animal to humans through illegally trafficked pangolins, sought after in Asia as food and medicine. Scientists have pointed to either bats or snakes as the possible source.

COVID-19 is contagious and can be caught by others who have the virus. The disease can spread by breathing in the contaminated small droplets expelled through coughs or sneezes, or by touching a surface where they have landed and then rubbing your face – your nose, eyes, or mouth. This emphasises the importance of washing your hands regularly with soap (for 20 seconds minimum!) and keeping a distance from others to avoid inhalation of contaminated droplets.

So, how can I stop the spread?

Precautionary & Prevention Measures:
  • Regularly wash your hands with soapy water for a minimum of 20 seconds
    or, if you can’t:
  • Regularly disinfect your hands with an alcohol-based sanitiser such as Agar’s Cool Tide or AS-60 – look for at least 60% ethanol
  • Clean and disinfect highly used surfaces – keyboard, mouse, light switches, telephones, mobiles, steering wheels, etc.
  • Maintain at least 1.5-metre distance between yourself and others
  • Do not shake hands, hug, or kiss as greetings
  • Practice social distancing – avoid crowds and gatherings of people when possible (follow government directives)
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Sneeze and cough in a tissue or the bend of your elbow to minimise the spread
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have any of the symptoms outlined below, then seek medical attention – call in advance
  • Limit travel as much as you can except to places deemed essential – supermarkets, work, emergency facilities
  • Limit contact with elderly persons or persons with underlying health issues
  • Keep up to date with Health Alerts from the AUS Government HERE
  • Don’t share drink bottles, crockery and cutlery
  • Get a flu shot as soon as possible (could help reduce the risk of further problems)
Hand Wash How To
9 Steps of Hand Washing
What symptoms should I look out for?
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, call 000 for urgent medical help.

What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

The first symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza (flu) infections are often very similar. They both cause fever and similar respiratory symptoms, which can then range from mild through to severe disease, and sometimes can be fatal.

Both viruses are also transmitted in the same way, by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with hands, surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus. As a result, the same public health measures, such as hand hygiene (handwashing), good respiratory etiquette (coughing into your elbow, or tissue and immediately disposing of it) and good household cleaning are important actions to prevent both infections.

The speed of transmission is an important difference between the two viruses. Influenza typically has a shorter incubation period (the time from infection to appearance of symptoms) than COVID-19. This means that influenza can spread faster than COVID-19.

While the range of symptoms for the two viruses is similar, the fraction with severe disease appears to be higher for COVID-19. While most people have mild symptoms, approximately 15% of people have severe infections and 5% require intensive care in a hospital ICU. The proportions of severe and critical COVID-19 infections are higher than for influenza infections.

Agar’s Commitment

To Staff:

Hand sanitisers and facemasks are readily available. Meetings have been limited. Physical cash transactions discontinued. Distancing 1.5m between staff members. Opportunities to work remotely where possible. No face-to-face transactions with customers.

To Public:

Regular updates regarding stock availability and demand. Situation updates in conjunction with legislative lockdown adjustments. Priority service to Healthcare and Hospitals at the forefront of the pandemic. Continuing to supply and develop virus combative products.

To our Clients:

We are working to our maximum capacity to clear the backlog of orders we have received and will keep you informed throughout this process. We want to thank all our clients for their patience and understanding and apologise for the inconvenience.

Click here to signup below to receive any further news and updates from Agar.

For sales, please contact

Sources & References
Check your symptoms:

*Disclaimer: All above information/sources are accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing. Please reference the above information at your own discretion.  

ISSA Cleaning Expo – Anything you missed?

As a whole, the 2018 ISSA Cleaning & Hygiene Expo held at the ICC, Darling Harbour, Sydney was an excellent representation of the cleaning supply industry with most well-known brands present, which we were pleased to be a part of.

We were really happy with the layout and appearance of our stand, which we received quite a few compliments for. With a vibrant backdrop and our strong Agar branding, and being adjacent to the central break-out area, our stand could be recognized from a good distance across the exhibition floor.

Having such a wide cleaning product range it’s not easy to focus on any one offering, but nevertheless we chose to feature our new GECA licensed disinfectant ‘Kuranda’ as part of our Green Range and our new super-concentrated floor stripper ‘Demolish’. We enjoyed the chance to celebrate Agar reaching the mark of 50 years in business this year with those at the show who participated in our competition.

Our staff on the stand including Ryan Cue, Lisa Naughton, Luke Yatras and myself were kept busy throughout the day. Certainly by the end of each day, our feet were aching and in need of resting. On both days from ‘doors open’ at 9:30am we had a steady stream of visitors to speak to. As well as the many familiar faces, we had a good number of new enquiries which we’ll be following up on in the next few days. During the latter stages of the day, it quietened down, but this allowed us some time to peruse and enjoy the other cleaning product stands as well as catch up with other suppliers.

Our 50th birthday raffle received numerous entries, and we were pleased to see Jo Ruzicka of ASAP Cleaning in Brisbane win the $500 JB Hi-Fi voucher. Congratulations also to our 12 other winners who each received $50 Agar product vouchers.

Overall, I felt we had very meaningful participation in the ISSA Cleaning Expo. It was a brilliant opportunity to help us build and reinforcing brand awareness, introducing some great new products to many of our valued customers and connect with new members of the industry about exciting opportunities.

If we caught you at the show, thank you for stopping by to chat, we hope you got as much value as we did. But if we missed you we’ll be sure to catch you at next year’s expo.

– Steve Agar

Understanding the GHS – Frequently Asked Questions

The Globally Harmonised System (GHS) is now in full swing in NSW, QLD, NT, SA and TAS after the states transitioned, 1st January 2017. The new system has meant big changes to the classification, labelling and communicating of hazardous products.

Agar has carefully examined the classification standard, and re-assessed all of its products. Accordingly, the majority of its commercial cleaning products are now classified as hazardous whereas previously only about 50 percent were. This has left businesses and cleaners alike confused about the risks associated with using cleaning chemicals and their responsibilities in becoming GHS compliant. To assist customers in understanding the new GHS system, Agar has put together some frequently asked questions to clarify uncertainty and outline what actions they need to take to be GHS compliant.

Good to know:

  • If the cleaning products available at the supermarkets were sold in bulk containers for commercial use, they too would be covered by the GHS and would be mostly classified as hazardous.
  • The GHS includes mild hazards not previously recorded under past systems, such as the irritation to skin which can occur after prolonged contact with a detergent.
  • The hazards labelled on bottles are for the concentrated product, the diluted solution is often much milder, and in some cases not hazardous at all.
  • The risks of using hazardous products can greatly be avoided through correct handling, following safety procedures and wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves and glasses, which the majority of cleaners already do.
  • Product risk assessments, available in the member’s area of the Agar website, are a great resource for understanding how to manage the risks of using cleaning chemicals.

What is the GHS?

The Globally Harmonised System (GHS) is an international system designed to unify the classification and communication of chemical hazards throughout the world. It uses new hazard assessment criteria to classify chemicals as either hazardous or non-hazardous. The GHS uses signal words, pictograms, hazard statements and precautionary statements to communicate the risks of hazardous products. The GHS system only applies to products sold for use in the workplace.

What states are using the GHS?

  • NSW, QLD, NT, SA and TAS
  • VIC is expected to convert 1/7/2017
  • WA permits the use of GHS and/or the old system at this time

When is the GHS effective?

  • 1st January 2017 – NSW, QLD, NT, SA and TAS
  • 1st July 2017 – VIC (proposed date – yet to be confirmed)
  • WA and ACT – no date has been announced

How does the GHS affect my business?

If you are operating in the states which have implemented the GHS (NSW, QLD, NT, SA and TAS) you will need to ensure that your business is GHS compliant. To be GHS compliant you must ensure:

  • All cleaning chemicals onsite have current GHS Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s). Agar’s can be found here
  • All new cleaning chemicals purchased, that are manufactured after 1/1/2017, have GHS labels.
  • All new decanting containers manufactured and labelled after 1/1/2017 must have GHS compliant labels. Screen printed bottles, purchased or manufactured before 1/1/2017, can continue to be sold and used after this date.
  • While not a requirement for GHS compliance, customers that keep product risk assessments on site for hazardous chemicals will need to obtain them for the newly classified hazardous products. These can be found in the member’s area of Agar’s website – note you must login to the Agar site to access this page.

How do I tell if a product is GHS compliant?

Only hazardous products are required to carry the new GHS labels and have GHS SDS’s. To identify if the product is hazardous and GHS compliant you will need to look out for the following things on the label and SDS:

  • Signal Word (either WARNING or DANGER)
  • Hazard Statements such as: ‘May be harmful if swallowed’ or ‘Causes skin irritation’.
  • Pictogram (not all hazardous products are required to have a pictogram depending on the severity of the hazard).

These items will be found on both product labels and SDS’s as shown below:

Once Off Label 2

The format of Agar’s SDS’s has changed with GHS. This is an easy way to tell if you have the updated SDS, however it is always best to look for the signal word, pictogram and hazard statements found under Section 2 on the first page.


SDS Changes 2

Are products more hazardous now that they are classified under GHS?

No, the product formulations have remained the same, it’s the hazardous classification that has changed. The products are no more dangerous or harmful than before the GHS. Under the GHS, risks that were not previously recognised are now being classified as a hazard. An example of this would be Agar’s hair and bodywash detergent, Ambergold. Under the previous system Ambergold was not classified as hazardous, however under the GHS it is. GHS recognises that getting the shampoo in your eyes or leaving the concentrated product on your skin for an extended period of time would cause irritation and as such it is labelled as a hazard.

How can I tell the severity of the risk?

There are a few ways to identify the severity of the hazard for a chemical.

  1. The signal word used: DANGER denotes a higher risk than WARNING.
  2. Hazard statements. These go up in severity from mild to severe: ‘Causes mild skin irritation’, ‘Causes skin irritation’, ‘Causes severe skin burns and eye damage’.
  3. Pictograms: The ‘Harmful’ pictogram communicates a milder hazard than ‘Corrosive’ or ‘Health Hazard’.


Hazard Pictograms

Understanding Pictograms

The pictograms present on the label communicate the most severe warning from the product. A corrosive symbol on a label does not necessarily mean that the product will burn the skin, rather it might be there to highlight the possible effects that the concentrated product could have if it was to come in direct contact with the eyes. It is also important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the product will definitely cause reactions such as severe eye damage, rather that it is a possible risk.

Agar’s manual dishwashing liquid Lift is a good example of this. It carries the corrosive pictogram to communicate that the concentrated product may cause serious eye damage, however that does not mean that it will have the same effects on the skin. Unlike strong acids that can potentially burn the skin, Lift might cause irritation to the skin after prolonged contact with the undiluted product.

It is important to note that these hazards are often easily neutralised through using the chemicals correctly and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).  The hazards listed on the product label are for the concentrated product, not the diluted version which will generally have a much milder risk or no recorded risk at all.

Is it safe to use hazardous products?

Yes, hazardous products are still safe to use however, like all cleaning products, they must be handled with care, especially the concentrated products directly from the bottles. Always follow the instructions and safety guidelines, use the correct PPE and read the SDS before use.

The GHS provides an opportunity to re-think our attitude to all chemicals. Whilst they’re an important ‘tool’ for our cleaning tasks, they need to be treated with respect and we need to be aware of any risks they pose, including minor risks such as skin irritation.

Can I still use the old products I have that don’t have GHS labels?

Yes, you can continue to store and use products manufactured and purchased prior to 1/1/2017 that do not have GHS labels. You will need to get an updated GHS SDS for them however

What if someone tries to sell me a product that does not have a GHS label?

Safe Work Australia released a statement in November 2016 outlining that suppliers could continue to sell products without GHS labels that were manufactured before 1/1/2017. This was to reduce the workload on manufacturers and suppliers so that they didn’t have to relabel products already labelled under the old system.

If the product has a manufacturing date after 1/1/2017, is classified as hazardous under GHS and your workplace is in the GHS compliant states of NSW, QLD, NT, SA and TAS and it is NOT carrying a GHS label then do NOT purchase it. It is your business’s responsibility to ensure that it is GHS compliant and as such, your business’s responsibility to ensure that it only purchases GHS compliant products.

A pH neutral product I thought was safe now has a corrosive pictogram on it. Is it still safe to use?

corrosiveIn the past the ‘Corrosive 8’ symbol was used exclusively with Dangerous Goods products and was generally reserved for chemicals such as strong acids that could cause severe burns to the skin. A similar symbol is now also used to communicate corrosive products under the GHS and appears on some pH neutral products that have been newly classified as hazardous, causing some alarm and confusion.

The GHS corrosive pictogram is used to communicate the effects a product may have on the skin, eyes and surfaces. In the case of pH neutral cleaning products, the effect on the skin may be mild and for surfaces it might be nil, but it could potentially damage the eyes if the concentrated product were to come into contact with them. It is important to remember that the GHS uses a very conservative approach to classifying risks. These neutral products will not cause severe burns to the skin on contact and are still safe to use. Care should be taken during dilution and safety glasses should be worn to ensure that the product doesn’t get into the eyes. As you can expect, most people already do this.

Does GHS mean changes for Dangerous Goods freight?

No, the Dangerous Goods Act remains the same and is still used for storage, handling and transport. The Dangerous Goods symbols used on some of Agar’s products can be seen below.

Dangerous Goods Diamonds

If a product is classified as hazardous under GHS, is it then considered to be Dangerous Goods?

No, Hazardous refers to a product’s effects on health and the environment while Dangerous Goods focuses on immediate danger that a substance presents during storage, handling and transport. Both systems are in operation together.

If a product has the signal word ‘DANGER’ on it, does that mean that it is classified as Dangerous Goods?

No, the signal word ‘DANGER’ corresponds with the GHS hazardous classification and labelling, NOT Dangerous Goods. A product that is classified as Dangerous Goods will have a Dangerous Goods diamond (pictured above) on the label.

Should I stop using a product which was previously non-hazardous but is now classified as hazardous under GHS?

No, the product and any inherent danger has not changed. The GHS now provides a framework for recognising minor risks which were previously not considered or ignored. You may wish to introduce additional PPE or modify procedures, based on the outcome of your risk assessment.

Please contact your Agar Distributor or Representative if you have any questions about the GHS labels.

GHS Implementation – Information for Customers

You may now be aware of the upcoming changes to the classification and labelling of cleaning products as the majority of States in Australia transition to the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), which becomes mandatory in most states from 1st January 2017.

The GHS is an international system, designed to unify the classification and communication of chemical hazards throughout the world using new hazard assessment criteria, and consistent information and pictograms on product labels and safety data sheets (SDS). The system only applies to chemicals used in the workplace and does not include those sold to the domestic market.

As it stands all states in Australia, excluding Western Australia, ACT and Victoria, will be transitioning to the GHS at the beginning of next year. Victoria is likely to transition on 1st July 2017.

GHS Overview

  • New system for classifying chemicals and communicating hazards and precautions
  • NSW, QLD, NT, SA, TAS transitioning 1st January 2017
  • Victoria expected to transition 1st July 2017
  • Affects classification of cleaning products – many more will be classified as hazardous
  • SDSs and product labels will change with the addition of pictograms, Signal Words, Hazard Statements and Precautionary Statements

Agar Cleaning Systems has been working tirelessly to implement the GHS changes to ensure its clients are ready well before the January deadline. By partnering with Agar, customers have always been safe in the knowledge that they are compliant in chemical management. Agar will endeavour to assist all customers with their transition to the new system by providing relevant technical support and information. Below are the main changes to be aware of with the inception of GHS.

Hazardous Products Classification

Firstly, the system will reclassify which chemicals are deemed as hazardous under stricter criteria. This means that the majority of commercial cleaning products will now be classified as hazardous including the likes of hair shampoo and manual dishwashing liquid. Please note that the products are staying the same: it’s only the hazard criteria that is changing. Under the new rules for classification, minor hazards which were not recognised under previous regulations, will now be identified.

An example of this would be repeatedly using a detergent, currently classed non-hazardous, with a sponge whilst not wearing gloves. This is not healthy for the skin and can lead to dryness and further issues. This is not recognised under the existing rules because the detergent is not currently classified as hazardous. GHS recognises the risk to the skin in this situation, considers it a hazard, and will require a warning. The situation however is easily dealt with by wearing gloves, which the cleaning staff are likely to already be doing.

The implication of this is that virtually all chemicals will require a risk assessment to be completed before use and a record kept on site.

Hazard Communication

Under the GHS, hazards and precautions will be communicated on SDSs and labels using Signal Words, Hazard Statements and Precautionary Statements.


Pictograms will be used to visually communicate hazards on labels and SDSs. Examples of the pictograms that will be found on some of Agar’s labels are supplied below. Please note not all hazardous products require a pictogram. Those that are deemed mild enough can be labelled without them.

Signal Words

Found on product labels and SDSs, each hazardous product will now be classified under one of the two signal words: Warning and Danger. Warning will categorise the lower risk and Danger the higher.

Hazard Statements

The Hazard Statement details the nature of the chemical’s hazard and its degree of severity. Hazards include those that affect health, physical safety and the environment. Examples include: ‘causes mild skin irritation’ and ‘causes serious eye irritation’.

Precautionary Statements

Precautionary statements are found below Hazard Statements on the SDS and include four headings: Prevention, Response, Storage and Disposal. ‘Prevention’, which outlines measures to take to reduce the risk of the hazard and ‘Response’, which refers to first aid advice, will be found on every SDS. ‘Storage’ and ‘Disposal’ information will only be found on products where this information is required.


Examples of GHS Pictograms found on some of Agar labels



Product Labels

With the introduction of GHS, the majority of Agar’s product labels will change to include the hazard/precautionary information and pictograms. Agar is currently in the process of updating all its labels and is on track to have these released well in advance of 1st January 2017. Please note that Safe Work Australia released a statement in November allowing products manufactured prior to GHS inception to continue to be sold with labels applicable to their time of manufacturing.  All new products manufactured after 1st January 2017 must be sold with GHS labels.

Dispenser bottles will also be updated to reflect the changes. It is important to note that end user clients do not need to replace labels or throw out dispenser bottles carrying the old information.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

The GHS SDSs will include new pictograms, signal words, hazard statements and precautionary statements, and will see Agar’s SDSs expand from its standard two pages to five-six pages.

All of Agar’s GHS SDSs can be found here


Safety Data Sheet Layout Changing Under GHS



Agar would like to thank all its valued clients with for their patience during this process. For further information on Agar’s transition to GHS, please contact your local Agar office.