Globally Harmonised System (GHS)

This international system of classifying chemicals and communicating their hazards came into effect in Australia on 1 January 2017.

What the GHS is

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

  • standardises systems across countries, therefore removing barriers to trade and reducing burdens on business
  • enhances the protection of people and the environment
  • is easy to read and understand

What the GHS replaces

The GHS replaced the Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances, the previous system for classifying hazardous substances and dangerous goods in the workplace.

You should also be now using 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