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Understanding GHS

As of the 1st January 2017 GHS regulations are mandatory in Australia! Use the resource guides below to become familiar with GHS, how it affects you and what you need to do to implement it properly in the workplace.

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GHS Deadline

All workplace chemicals must be classified according to the GHS as implemented under the WHS Regulations. Deadline January 1st 2017

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Seton GHS

What is GHS?

The Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is a comprehensive tool that harmonises chemical classification and hazard communication through labelling and Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

The GHS System includes:

  • Identification of health, physical and environmental hazards.
  • Creation of a classification procedure using information on chemicals for comparison with the identified hazard measures.
  • Communication of these hazard information and development of a system to protect people from workplace hazards.
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The Purpose of GHS?

The purpose of GHS is to simplify chemical hazard identification, especially during shipping and transport, regardless of spoken language. This will be achieved through a homogenized set of GHS Pictograms, GHS Labels, GHS Signs, and GHS Safety Data Sheets.

GHS labels and SDS include information on:

  • Hazard classes
  • Symbols
  • Signal words
  • Hazard and Precautionary Statements

The GHS document, published by the United Nations, is also known as the "purple book" which describes the harmonised criteria for classification of:

  • Physical Hazards (e.g. Flammable liquids)
  • Health Hazards (e.g. Carcinogens); and
  • Environmental Hazards (e.g. Aquatic Toxicity)
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The goal of GHS

The goal of GHS is to more effectively communicate chemical hazards to improve the safety and health of workers. It’s aim is to improve international trade conditions for chemical manufacturers, enhance worker comprehension of hazards and reduce confusion, facilitate safety training, and result in safer handling and use of chemicals.

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Did You Know?

GHS provides quicker, more efficient access to SDS information, cost savings through productivity improvements, fewer SDS and label updates, and simpler hazcom training.

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Are you GHS ready?

Aimed at educating manufacturers, importers, suppliers and users of hazardous chemicals, this video provides comprehensive information on how to comply with GHS:

  • What the GHS is and who it affects
  • The benefits of the new system
  • The changes you will see on workplace chemical labels and safety data sheets
  • How manufacturers, importers and suppliers can implement the GHS, and
  • How workplaces can prepare for the new system.

Source: Safe Work Australia

The Streamlined Guide to GHS

By streamlining all of the various elements of GHS into one guide, you can more easily navigate your way to compliance.

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What do the GHS Changes Mean for Businesses?

The purpose of GHS is to create a simple, clear globally shared system of classify chemicals which will ultimately ensure the safety for you, your staff and your customers. The GHS uses pictograms, signal words, and hazard and precautionary statements to communicate this information.

It’s important that you and your staff learn what the different warning pictograms, signal words, hazard and precautionary statements means for the communication to be effective. If you are a manufacturer, importer, or supplier of hazardous chemicals, it is important that you understand GHS and what you need to do to meet the necessary requirements.

Who will be most affected?

If you are a Manufacturer, importer and supplier of hazardous chemicals you will be the most affected by the introduction of the GHS. As per the WH&S laws, it is the duty of manufacturers and importers of chemicals supplied to workplaces to determine if a chemical is hazardous, and to correctly classify the chemical according to the GHS. Manufacturers and importers are also responsible for ensuring that correct GHS labels and SDS are prepared for hazardous chemicals.

Users of hazardous chemicals are not required to re-label or dispose of existing stock. However from 1 January 2017 onwards, suppliers and end users of hazardous chemicals must only supply and accept hazardous chemicals which have been classified and labelled in accordance with the GHS. For more information visit:

New GHS Pictograms


Explosives, self-reactives, organic peroxides


Flammable gases, liquids, and solids, self-reactives, pyrophorics, self-heating


Oxidisers gases, liquids and solids

Gas Pressure

Compressed gases, liquefied gases, dissolved gases


Corrosives to metals


Skin corrosion, serious eye damage

Severe Toxic

Acute toxicity (severe)

Acute Toxic

Irritant, dermal sensitiser, acute toxicity (harmful)

Health Danger

Carcinogens, respiratory sensitisers, reproductive toxicity, target organ toxicity, germ cell mutagens


Aquatic toxicity

Products to Help You Comply with GHS

GHS Hazardous
Chemical Labels


GHS Employee
Training Handbooks

GHS Label


Flammable Liquid
Storage Cabinets