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GHS. What is it and how will it affect me? By Sheryl Hoffmann. What is the GHS?. The GHS is an acronym for The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals .

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What is it and how will it affect me?

By Sheryl Hoffmann

what is the ghs
What is the GHS?

The GHS is an acronym for The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

The GHS is a single internationally agreed system of classification and labelling of chemicals, which was developed under the auspices of the United Nations.

The GHS includes harmonised criteria for:

  • the classification of physical hazards (such as flammability),
  • health hazards (such as carcinogenicity) and
  • environmental hazards
on 1 st january 2012
On 1st January 2012
  • The new Work Health and Safety Act, Regulations & Codes of Practice will come into effect, in all states in Australia.
  • All states will have the same legislation.
  • The Hazardous Substances part of this new legislation is based on GHS.
why was the ghs developed
Why was the GHS Developed?
  • Different countries have different laws and regulations, as well as different definitions of what is hazardous, thus manufacturers need to produce different labels & MSDS’s for different countries. This is complex and costly and impacts on both protection for chemicals users and to trade.
what will be achieved
What will be achieved?
  • enhance the protection of people and the environment by providing an internationally comprehensive system for chemical hazard communication;
  • provide a recognised framework for those countries without an existing system;
  • reduce the need for duplicative testing and evaluation of chemicals; and
  • facilitate international trade in chemicals whose hazards have been properly assessed and identified on an international basis.
  • Physical Hazards
  • Health Hazards
  • Environmental Hazards
physical hazards
Physical Hazards
  • Explosives
  • Flammable Gases
  • Flammable Aerosols
  • Oxidizing Gases
  • Gases Under Pressure
  • Flammable Liquids
  • Flammable Solids
  • Self-Reactive Substances
  • Pyrophoric Liquids
  • Pyrophoric Solids
  • Self-Heating Substances
  • Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases
  • Oxidizing Liquids
  • Oxidizing Solids
  • Organic Peroxides
  • Corrosive to Metals
health hazards
Health Hazards
  • Acute Toxicity
  • Skin Corrosion/Irritation
  • Serous Eye Damage/Eye Irritation
  • Respiratory or Skin Sensitization
  • Germ Cell Mutagenicity
  • Carcinogenicity
  • Reproductive Toxicology
  • Specific Target Organ Toxicity – Single Exposure
  • Specific Target Organ Toxicity – Repeated Exposure
  • Aspiration Toxicity
environmental hazards
  • Hazardous to the Aquatic Environment
  • Acute aquatic toxicity
  • Chronic aquatic toxicity
        • Bioaccumulation potential
        • Rapid degradability
  • Labels
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
label elements
Label Elements
  • Signal Words eg Danger (or Warning)
  • Hazard Statements eg H224 Extremely flammable liquid and vapour
  • Precautionary Statements
    • Preventioneg P210 Keep away from heat/sparks/open flames/hot surfaces. – No smoking.
    • Responseeg P303 IF ON SKIN (or hair) Remove/Take off immediately all contaminated clothing. Rinse skin with water/shower.
    • Storageeg P403 Store in a well-ventilated place. Keep cool.
    • Disposaleg P501 Dispose of contents/container to ....
  • Hazard Pictogram
nine hazard pictograms
Nine Hazard Pictograms


(Exploding bomb)



Gases under pressure

(Gas cylinder)

nine hazard pictograms1
Nine Hazard Pictograms


(Flame over circle)

Chronic Health hazards

(Health hazard)

-includes carcinogens,

reproductive toxins,

mutagenic, specific target

organ toxicity, and aspiration hazard

nine hazard pictograms2
Nine Hazard Pictograms



Acute toxicity

(Skull and crossbones)

nine hazard pictograms3
Nine Hazard Pictograms

Certain health Hazards

(Exclamation mark)

(e.g. sensitisers)

Environmental hazard


label information
Label Information
  • Product Identifier (eg name)
  • Proper Shipping name & UN Number (if Dangerous Good)
  • The name, address & phone number of the Australian importer or manufacturer
  • Identity & proportions (if a mixture)
  • Signal Word eg Danger or Warning
  • Hazard Statement
  • Hazard Pictogram
  • Precautionary Statements
  • Any other info eg first aid, emergency procedures
  • Expiry date of the chemical if applicable
decanted substances
Decanted Substances

The label must be written in English and include the following:

  • the product identifier, and
  • a hazard pictogram and hazard statement that are consistent with the correct classification of the chemical.
containers found without correct labelling
Containers found without correct labelling

If the product identifier of an unlabelled chemical is not known, this should be clearly marked on the container, for example by attaching a label to the container with the statement: Caution - Do Not Use - Unknown Substance.

consumer products
Consumer Products

Original label on a consumer is sufficient if it is reasonably foreseeable that the hazardous chemical will be used in the workplace only:

  • in a quantity that is consistent with consumer household use, and
  • in a way that is consistent with consumer household use, and
  • in a way that is incidental to the nature of the work carried out by a worker using the chemical
sa legislation
SA Legislation

Work Health and Safety Act (SA)

Work Health and Safety Regulations (SA) – Chapter 7: Hazardous Chemicals

(draft released 7th Dec 2010)

Code of Practices (draft released 7th Dec 2010)

Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice

Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice

Additional Code of Practices to be released in 2011

Chemicals - General Risk Management

Chemicals - Storage and Handling of dangerous goods

  • Register
  • SDS
  • Labelling

7.1.23 Hazardous chemicals register

(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must maintain a register of hazardous chemicals used, handled or stored at the workplace.


(2) The register must include:

(a) a list of hazardous chemicals used, handled or stored; and

(b) the current safety data sheet for each chemical listed.


(3) The person must ensure that the register is readily available to:

(a) a worker involved in using, handling or storing a hazardous chemical; and

(b) anyone else who is likely to be affected by a hazardous chemical at the workplace.

safety data sheets sds
Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Code of Practice

Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice


ChemWatch can produce GHS Safety Data Sheet but WHS Regulations 7.1.21 clearly state the SDS must be obtained from the Australian manufacturer or importer.

a safety data sheet must include
A safety data sheet must include:

Section 1 - Identification: Product identifier and identity for the chemical;

Section 2 – Hazard(s) identification;

Section 3 - Composition and information on ingredients;

Section 4 - First-aid measures;

Section 5 - Fire-fighting measures;

Section 6 - Accidental release measures;

Section 7 - Handling and storage, including how the chemical may be safely used;

Section 8 - Exposure controls and personal protection;

a safety data sheet must include1
A safety data sheet must include:
  • Section 9 - Physical and chemical properties;
  • Section 10 - Stability and reactivity;
  • Section 11 - Toxicological information;
  • Section 12 - Ecological information;
  • Section 13 - Disposal considerations;
  • Section 14 - Transport information;
  • Section 15 - Regulatory information;
  • Section 16 - Any other relevant information.

Manufacturers and importers

  • Ensure that the chemical is correctly labelled.
  • However, you may not need to relabel a hazardous chemical if it is a consumer product that retains its original label, and the chemical is only used in workplaces in household quantities and in a way that is incidental to the nature of the work activities undertaken by any worker who uses the chemical.


  • Must not supply a hazardous chemical to a workplace if the supplier knows, or ought reasonably to know, that the chemical is not correctly labelled.

Person who is conducting a business or undertaking

  • Ensure that any hazardous chemical that is used, handled or stored at the workplace is correctly labelled, in accordance with Schedule 9 of the WHS Regulations, except where:
    • the hazardous chemical is a consumer product, retaining its original label and only used in workplaces in household quantities and in a way that is incidental to the nature of the work, or
    • a hazardous chemical is in transit.

Person who is conducting a business or undertaking

  • Ensure that a hazardous chemical is correctly labelled if the chemical is manufactured at the workplace; or transferred or decanted from the chemical’s original container at the workplace.

NB: Manufacture includes the activities of packing, repacking, formulating, blending, mixing, making, remaking and synthesising.


Person who is conducting a business or undertaking

  • Ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that containers are correctly labelled while holding a hazardous chemical.
  • Ensure that containers that are labelled for holding a hazardous chemical are used only for the use, handling or storage of the hazardous chemical.

Person who is conducting a business or undertaking

  • The above three duties do not apply if the hazardous chemical is used immediately after being put into the container and the container is thoroughly cleaned after the chemical has been used, handled or stored so it is in a condition it would be in if the container had never contained the chemical.
  • Ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that a hazardous chemical in pipe work is identified by a label, sign or another way on or near the pipe work.
  •  GHS Classification = Physical + Health + Environmental Hazards
  • Signal Words,Hazard Statement & Precautionary Statements
  • GHS Pictograms
  • Register
  • Safety Data Sheets
  • Label including transport labels + Workplace labelling requirements