Chemicals and the GHS

What is GHS you are asking?  Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is providing a uniformed way of classifying chemicals, as well as informing chemical users about the chemical hazards they may be exposed to.  Australia will now follow Europe and the rest of the world to form a single international system recognised throughout the world.

Officially as of 1st January, 2017, Globally Harmonised System will come into play in Australia and you will notice a big difference in the labelling of your product as they will display “pictograms” which will depict if the product is Explosive, Flammable, Oxidising, Corrosive, Environmental Hazard, Acute Toxicity etc.

The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) will be replaced by the SDS (Safety Data  Sheet) and if there is a need for a GHS pictogram, this will be under the GHS classification with a GHS signal word such as WARNING or DANGER. Manufacturers are required to reformulate the active ingredients to comply with these pictograms.

Some of the hiccups chemical manufacturers are experiencing under their current formulations, will now have to put a CORROSIVE pictogram on Dishwashing Liquid, Liquid Hand Soap, because one of the raw materials may cause discomfort to the eyes.

Forced to use replacement ingredients and rework the formula increases the cost of the chemical to ensure it is as effective as before, will not break down or separate in the process.  This process of reformulation and reclassification under GHS can only lead to safer products for the end user.




Chemicals manufactured or imported before 1 January 2017 can continue to be supplied without needing to meet the labelling requirements under the Globally Harmonized System, or GHS, of the model Work Health and Safety Regulations.

Safe Work Australia CEO Michelle Baxter said that Members agreed to this approach on 25 November 2016 in response to concerns raised by chemical suppliers.

“This approach will ensure a smooth transition to the GHS, and will avoid an unnecessary burden on suppliers to re-label existing chemical stock,” Ms Baxter explained.
Find out more information on the Safe Work Australia website.


Important GHS message from Whiteleys – PLEASE READ