Understanding the GHS 7: Classifying & Labelling Chemicals

Australia has now fully adopted the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals in its Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS). The GHS is an internationally recognised system for grouping hazardous chemicals according to their health, physical and environmental hazards. It assigns chemicals with various hazard symbols and statements to inform users of the potential risks associated with their use.

In recent years, Australia has moved from GHS 3 to GHS 7 in order to match our key trading partners and to remain aligned with international standards. This transition was necessary in order to ensure that chemicals used within Australia are classified and labelled in accordance with the most up-to-date criteria for safety, health, environmental and economic considerations.

The transition to GHS 7 also helps to ensure that chemicals have consistent classification and hazard communication across all countries and regions, allowing manufacturers and users to better understand the risks associated with their products. This helps reduce unnecessary risk due to inconsistent classifications or labels, while still ensuring that hazardous substances are appropriately identified and managed.

Ultimately, this transition will help protect the safety of workers and consumers while also promoting a uniform system of chemical labelling across the world.

How does it work?

With an increasing need to focus on the safety of chemicals and their potential impact on human health as well as the environment, in 2002, the United Nations developed the GHS which has now been adopted by numerous countries and international organisations.

The GHS 7 is an internationally agreed-upon version of the system for classifying and labelling chemicals according to their hazard levels. It provides a common set of rules through labels and safety data sheets that companies can use to identify hazardous materials when transporting or using them. It also provides guidance for chemical manufacturers on how to label products so that workers understand what hazards may be present when handling them.

What are its key features?

The GHS system includes criteria for hazard classification, labeling requirements, safety data sheet (SDS) requirements, precautionary statements, transport regulations, information exchange requirements, packaging requirements, waste disposal regulations, emergency response procedures, worker training requirements, and monitoring/auditing protocols.

GHS 7 Pictograms

The GHS uses 9 pictograms designed for rapid identification to represent the physical, health, and environmental hazards of chemicals.

Global Harmonised System 7 - Exploding Bomb pictogram
Explosive Flammable Oxidising Agents
Pressurised Gases Corrosion Fatal or Toxic
Low Level Hazard Health Hazard Environmental Hazard

How does it help protect human health?

By providing a common set of rules for chemical manufacturers to follow when labelling their products, GHS helps ensure that workers know exactly what hazards they may face when handling certain chemicals. This knowledge helps them take appropriate protective measures while working with hazardous materials. Additionally, it helps reduce risk during transportation by ensuring that shippers are aware of any potential hazards associated with particular chemicals prior to shipping them from one location to another. Finally, by providing clear guidelines for disposing of hazardous waste properly, GHS helps reduce the amount of pollution caused by improper disposal practices.


The Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is an internationally agreed-upon system designed to provide a common set of rules for identifying hazardous materials when transporting or using them in industry settings. By requiring companies to conduct risk assessments before handling certain chemicals, GHS helps protect human health and the environment from potential hazards posed during transportation or use in industrial processes. Additionally, by standardising labelling requirements across countries and regions, it ensures that workers know exactly what hazards they may face when handling certain chemicals so they can take appropriate measures for protecting themselves from harm. For these reasons, compliance officers must consider GHS standards in their own workplaces as a way to increase worker safety while also minimising the environmental impacts due to improper disposal practices or mishandling of hazardous materials.

For a full list of all our updated Safety Data Sheets, please click here.