Globally harmonised system of classification and labelling of chemicals

An international system to classify and communicate chemical hazards will commence in the Northern Territory on 1 January 2017.

The globally harmonised system (or GHS) of classification and labelling of chemicals uses internationally consistent terms and information on chemical labels and safety data sheets.

​What are the changes under the GHS?

The GHS changes affect the way chemicals are classified and how information is communicated in the following way:

Pictograms - Nine standard pictograms are used to classify chemicals.

Signal words - Either one of two signal words (Warning or Danger) are used to describe the hazard level associated with each chemical

Hazard statements - A standard set of hazard statements describes the chemical's main health effects in easy to understand terms.

Precautionary statements - These statements provide information on how to avoid or minimise risks of chemical exposure and the information is separated into the following five categories: prevention, response, storage, disposal and general.

Safety data sheets - Safety data sheets are formatted using 16 standardised headings with information such as health effects, first aid measures and required controls to minimise exposure

End users

End users can continue to store, handle and use non GHS labelled products that are already in the workplace until the products are used up. End users should not purchase any further products which are not GHS labelling compliant.

Veterinary chemical products

The Regulations were amended in 2017 to exclude veterinary chemicals listed on Schedule 4 or 8 of the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons. Importers, manufacturers and suppliers do not have to comply with GHS labelling requirements provided the product in question is packaged and supplied in a form consistent with direct administration to animals.

Transport of dangerous goods

GHS labelling and classification does not replace the requirements under the Australian Dangerous Goods Code for the transportation of hazardous chemicals.

Additional information


GHS resources