Transition to the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) 7

Australia has commenced a two-year transition to the 7th edition of the Globally Harmonized System of classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS 7).

About the transition

The GHS is an international system of classifying and communicating chemical hazards. It is used on chemical labels and safety data sheets.

During this transition period, manufacturers and suppliers may use either the 3rd, 4th, 5th or 7th editions of GHS (but not a combination), to prepare classifications, labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for hazardous chemicals.

From 1 January 2023, only GHS 7 may be used.

The transition to GHS 7 will align Victoria with other Australian and international jurisdictions and will:

  • provide a consistent approach to safety and classification of hazardous substances
  • potentially reduce costs for classification, labelling and SDS to manufacturers, and suppliers of hazardous substances
  • reduce regulatory burden on businesses, particularly those that operate across jurisdictions

The key changes under GHS 7

A summary of the key changes include:

  • The addition of a new hazard class for 'desensitized explosives'. This new hazard class is applicable to solid or liquid explosive substances that have been wetted with water or alcohols, or diluted with other substances to form an homogenous solid or liquid mixture that suppress the explosive properties of the substance.
  • Amendments to the classification criteria for flammable gases as described in the following table.
Category Criteria
1A Flammable gas

Gases, which at 20°C and a standard pressure of 101.3 kPa:

  1. are ignitable when in a mixture of 13% or less by volume in air; or
  2. have a flammable range with air of at least 12 percentage points regardless of the lower flammability limit.

unless data show they meet the criteria for Category 1B.

Pyrophoric gas Flammable gases that ignite spontaneously in air at a temperature of 54°C or below
Chemically unstable gas A Flammable gases which are chemically unstable at 20°C and a standard pressure of 101.3 kPa
B Flammable gases which are chemically unstable at a temperature greater than 20°C; and/or a pressure greater than 101.3 kPa
1B Flammable gas

Gases which meet the flammability criteria for Category 1A, but which are not pyrophoric or chemically unstable, and have at least either:

  1. a lower flammability limit of more than 6% by volume in air; or
  2. a fundamental burning velocity of less than 10 cm/s
2 Flammable gas Gases, other than those of category 1A or 1B, which at 20°C and a standard pressure of 101.3kPa, have a flammable range while mixed in air.
  • Revisions to the definitions of some health hazard classes. These definitions have been revised to ensure consistency in the way definitions were provided, for example, as some definitions were previously taken directly from OECD test guidelines while others were more general. These changes do not affect the scope or classification for these hazard classes.
  • Clarifications to the criteria for Serious Eye Damage/Eye irritation Category 2.
  • Updated precautionary statements to provide greater clarity in their application. These changes make precautionary statements easier for users to read, and easier to use for manufacturer/importers. Instructions for use have also been improved.
  • Further, GHS 7 provides for greater flexibility in the use of precautionary statements, including combining precautionary statements, and allows for changes to wording of precautionary statements which do not affect the safety message.

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