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GHS Chemical Labels

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is an internationally agreed-upon system, created by the United Nations. It is designed to replace the various classification and labelling standards used in different countries for hazardous products. GHS labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) will have different layouts, symbols and hazard statements, than our current labels and MSDS. Not all products are classified as Hazardous. Even under GHS some products will be Non–Classified and will not require any hazard labelling. A hazard label is made up of specific symbols (known as ‘pictograms’) and warnings. These pictograms and the wording that supports them are set out in law and suppliers must use them where hazardous properties have been identified.


Main points of the GHS Classification and Labelling of Chemicals

GHS hazard pictograms convey health, physical and environmental hazard information:


Signal Words

"Danger" (Fr – Danger, De- Gefahr) or "Warning" (Fr- Attention, De- Achtung) will be used to emphasise hazards.

For example:

"Danger" for the more severe hazards

"Warning" for the less severe hazards

This is a quick and easy way to distinguish the severity of hazard that the product poses.


Hazard Statements

Standard phrases assigned to a hazard class and category that describe the nature of the hazard. These Replace the Risk phrases (R phrases) we have now.

For example:

H302 Harmful if Swallowed, H312 Harmful in contact with skin.


R21/22 Harmful in contact with skin and if swallowed.Les articles concernant le danger


Precautionary Statements

Measures to minimise or prevent adverse effects. There are four types of precautionary statements covering prevention, response in cases of accidental spillage or exposure, storage, and disposal. These replace the Safety Phrases (S phrases) associated with CHIP style hazard labels.

For example:

P270: Do not eat, drink or smoke when using this product


S20/21 When using do not eat, drink or smoke


Table of CHIP style and GHS style symbols/pictograms
NameOld CHIP SymbolsNew GHS Symbols
Dangerous for the environment 
Two new symbols have been introduced:
Serious health hazards   
Contains gas under pressure 




A GHS MSDS should provide comprehensive information about the chemical product that allows employers and workers to obtain concise, relevant and accurate information that can be put in perspective with regard to the hazards, uses and risk management of the chemical product in the workplace. The MSDS should contain 16 sections: 

  1. Identification
  2. Hazard(s) identification
  3. Composition/ information on ingredients
  4. First-aid measures
  5. Fire-fighting measures
  6. Accidental release measures
  7. Handling and storage
  8. Exposure control/ personal protection
  9. Physical and chemical properties
  10. Stability and reactivity
  11. Toxicological information
  12. Ecological information
  13. Disposal considerations
  14. Transport information
  15. Regulatory information
  16. Other information