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.

The GHS was adopted in Australia under the model work health and safety laws in 2012 with a five year transition period. This transition expires in the Northern Territory on 31 December 2016.

To ensure there is no disruption to business with the commencement of the GHS, three exemptions have been put in place for the Northern Territory.

Suppliers and Retailers

Suppliers and retailers of hazardous chemicals can continue to sell product they have in stock provided it is labelled in accordance with the older NOHSC Code of Practice. However suppliers should not accept stock that was manufactured after 1 January 2017 that does not comply with GHS labelling requirements.

End Users

End users can continue to purchase non GHS labelling compliant products until 30 June 2017. End users can store, handle and use these products in the workplace until the products are used up. End users should not purchase any further products which are not GHS labelling compliant after 30 June 2017.

Veterinary Chemical Products

An exemption is in place for some 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.

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

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