Hazardous chemicals are substances, mixtures and articles that can pose a significant risk to health and safety if they're not managed correctly.

They may have one or both of:

  • health hazards (for example, toxic chemicals)
  • physical hazards (for example, flammable liquids).

Organisations that use hazardous chemicals must:

  • identify any hazardous chemicals used in the workplace
  • make sure the risks they present are assessed and controlled.

Controlled substances at UQ are those substances or mixtures reflected in current legislation or codes as regulated, controlled or needing the prevention of diversion towards illicit use. All controlled substances are hazardous chemicals.

This category includes: 

Identifying hazardous chemicals

The manufacturer or importer of a substance, mixture or article is responsible for determining whether or not it is a hazardous chemical. They must apply strict classification criteria set out in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).


All chemical packages, containers, tanks or bulk stores must be marked to clearly show identity and hazard of the goods stored. The requirements for the labelling of packages are detailed in the following codes of practice and regulations:

Safety Data Sheets

A safety data sheet (SDS) for any hazardous chemical used, handled or stored in a workplace must be readily accessible to all users. These documents provide critical information about hazardous chemicals, including:

  • chemical identity and ingredients
  • health and physical hazards
  • safe handling and storage procedures
  • emergency procedures
  • disposal considerations.

The Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals Code of Practice 2018 (Queensland) applies to substances, mixtures and articles used, handled, or stored at the workplace that are defined as hazardous chemicals under the WHS Regulation

You can access chemical Safety Data Sheets through Chemwatch.

Manufacturing or supplying hazardous chemicals

When you produce or manufacture any natural or artificial substance, mixture or article in a research laboratory at UQ, you must prepare an SDS. 

If any hazardous chemicals are provided to others (for example, to collaborators or industry), it is defined as “supplying”. Manufacturers and suppliers must:

  • prepare an SDS for the hazardous chemical before, or as soon as practicable after, manufacturing or importing the hazardous chemical
  • ensure chemicals are correctly labelled and packed as soon as practicable after manufacture.

For guidance on all legislation that must be met by manufacturers and suppliers, refer to the WHS Regulation

If you are manufacturing a research chemical, waste product or sample for analysis and it is not reasonably practicable to produce a full SDS, you must still prepare an SDS template for research chemicals, waste products or samples for analysis (PDF, 106.1 KB).

Where possible, we recommend preparing a single SDS for generic or grouped substances (for example, products with similar hazardous properties).

Import of chemicals

The import of chemicals or chemical samples into Australia, either from an overseas supplier or collaborators, is a complicated procedure. Legislation and the Border Force Department place strict regulations for the importation of substances into Australia and can impose severe penalties on the recipient of any unauthorised imports.

If unsure please contact the Customs Supervisor, Cargo Network International (www.cargonetwork.com.au) for assistance with all matters in relation to the import (and export) of goods. Cargo Network International will invoice organisational units directly for the cost of the services provided.

The following templates will help you navigate the requirements and make your suppliers or shippers aware of these to avoid customs delays and issues that might result in penalties, extra fees, and/or confiscation of goods:

You can use the following template LSO Procedure resolving chemical import issues to identify, process and report. This includes initiating escalation if you've received suspicious, fraudulent and/or problematic parcels containing chemicals.

Certain imports must be registered, reported and/or need a pre-introduction report with AICIS. For further information on this matter please contact hsw@uq.edu.au.

Risk management

You must complete a risk assessment for all work involving hazardous chemicals. The Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace Code of Practice 2013 (Queensland) provides practical guidance on how to manage health and safety risks associated with hazardous chemicals in the workplace. 

A safety data sheet (SDS) is a generic document for all users, and includes information about transport, storage and industrial use of the chemical. The recommendations for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, respirator and clothing protection, often reflect worst-case exposure scenarios. They may not be appropriate for laboratory conditions in which small quantities of chemicals are used with high-order controls such as fume cupboards.

Use information in the SDS to help assess chemical hazards. Useful information includes:

  • exposure standards
  • exposure routes
  • acute and chronic health effects.

Safe Work Australia publishes workplace exposure standards for chemicals and guidance for interpreting them. You can search exposure standards on Safe Work Australia’s Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS).

Risk managing the risk of oxygen depletion by hazardous chemicals can be achieved by using the Oxygen Depletion Calculator, further advice is found at 2.70.20 Working Safely with Liquid Nitrogen and Dry Ice guideline.

Health monitoring

When there is significant risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals, health monitoring may be required. Hazardous chemicals for which health monitoring may be required include, but are not limited to:


You must complete training before you start work with hazardous chemicals or laboratory work.

Check the training and induction requirements for hazardous chemicals workers and users, and laboratory workers.


Purchasing approvals

All regulated and controlled substances require purchasing approval by the appropriate officer.

There are two commodity approvals in UniFi for these substances:

Manifest of hazardous chemicals

To comply with the relevant WHS Regulation on the requirement of a current manifest, a controlled substance location (including room number) will need to be selected for all Drug Commodity items and Controlled Substances Commodity items purchased via UniFi (including catalogues).

See the Controlled substances location training (staff login required) to learn how to add the location in UniFi.