Globally Harmonised System (GHS)

A new international system of classifying chemicals and communicating their hazards is coming into effect in Australia on 1 January 2017.

What the GHS is

The Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals will:

  • standardise systems across countries, therefore removing barriers to trade and reducing burdens on business
  • enhance the protection of people and the environment
  • be easier to read and understand

What the GHS replaces

The GHS replaces Australia’s existing system for classifying hazardous substances and dangerous goods in the workplace, the Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances.

From 1 January 2017, you should also use the Tasmanian-approved codes of practice Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals and Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals. See our codes of practice page.

Who the GHS affects

If you manufacture, import, sell or use hazardous chemicals, you need to take action on the changes to labelling and classification.

What the changes include

Changes to labels include:

  • much briefer and more direct hazard statements about the nature of the chemical’s hazard
  • a precautionary statement which tells you how to respond to exposure and how to use the chemical safely
  • nine symbols or pictograms that quickly convey information about the chemicals hazards
  • two ‘signal words’ which indicate the severity of the chemical’s hazard: either Danger for severe hazards or Warning for less severe hazards

Practical resources

Find detailed information, practical guidance and resources such as checklists and posters for getting up to speed with the GHS here:

SafeWork NSW


Safe Work Australia