GHS - Globally Harmonised System of Classification
and Labelling of Chemicals

Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemical, or GHS are mandatory global standards developed by the United Nations and designed to standardise chemical classifications, labelling and data sheets.

What are the benefits of GHS

The implementation of GHS will bring a vast amount benefits for chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors.

What are the changes

As part of the GHS, there are three key areas which will be impacted - hazard classification, labelling, and safety data sheets. The key changes for uses of chemicals will be Safety Data Sheets (SDS) replacing Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), the presences of pictograms classifying hazardous chemicals and new warning information on labels

GHS Symbols and Meanings

Pictograms are universal symbols intended to quickly convey special information about the hazards of chemicals. There are nine hazard pictograms in the GHS which represent the physical, health and environmental hazards. These are as follows;

Skull and Crossbones

Acute toxicity via oral, dermal, or inhalation

Flame Over Circle

Oxidising substances

Health Hazard

Aspiratory or respiratory hazard, carcinogenecity, mutagenicity

Exploding Bomb

Explosives, self-reactive substances, organic peroxides

Environment

Hazardous to the environment

Gas Cylinder

Compressed, liquefied, or dissolved gases

Flame

Flammable, pyrophoric, self-heating substances; water reactive

Corrosion

Corrosive, skin damage, eye damage

Exclamation Mark

May cause immediate health effect - skin, eye, respiratory

Safety Data Sheets

Previously named Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are now referred to as Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and follow a specific 16-section standardised format. Similar to the Materials Safety Data Sheets the format and sections of the SDS remain very similar with the most prominent changes appearing in Sections 2 and 3.

Labels

Chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors will have to use labels incorporating a harmonized signal word, pictogram/s and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements will also be required.

1. Product Identifier Name on the products
2. Identify and Proportion The ingredients and percentage of ingredients in the product
3. Signal Word One of two words indicating the seriousness of the hazard. Warning is used to describe less sever hazards while Danger means severe hazards
4. Hazard Statement A hazard statement is a brief message describing the nature of the hazard, such as ' Causes serious eye irritation'
5. Pictogram Universal symbols intended to quickly convey special information about the hazards of the chemicals
6. Precautionary Statements This section outlines how to respond in case of exposure and how to store chemicals safely and properly
7. Contact Details Contact details of the Australian manufacturer or importer

Name on the products

The ingredients and percentage of ingredients in the product

One of two words indicating the seriousness of the hazard. Warning is used to describe less sever hazards while Danger means severe hazards

A hazard statement is a brief message describing the nature of the hazard, such as 'Causes serious eye irritation'

Universal symbols intended to quickly convey special information about the hazards of the chemicals

This section outlines how to respond in case of exposure and how to store chemicals safely and properly

Contact details of the Australian manufacturer or importer

Name on the products

The ingredients and percentage of ingredients in the product

One of two words indicating the seriousness of the hazard. Warning is used to describe less severe hazards while Danger means severe hazards

A hazard statement is a brief message describing the nature of the hazard, such as 'Causes serious eye irritation'

Universal symbols intended to quickly convey special information about the hazards of the chemicals

This section outlines how to respond in case of exposure and how to store chemicals safely and properly

Contact details of the Australian manufacturer or importer

When will GHS become mandatory?

Australia adopted these regulations in 2011 and have been in a 5-year transition period with full implementation on 1 January 2017. After this date end uses of hazardous chemicals are still able to use, handle and store inventory holdings of hazardous chemicals labelled in accordance with the previous labelling code until inventory in the supply chain is exhausted.

Contact Us

If you are going to be affected by the GHS and need assistance on compliance with these standards, or for information on compatible label materials and label printing options, please contact our team on 1300 467 446.

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