GHS chemical labels & classification: Changes in version 7

Many countries are aligning with version 7. But what is it exactly and what does it mean for GHS chemical labels and classification around the world?

Laura Voikar

by Laura Voikar

The 7th version of Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS 7) has been on a long path to adoption since first being published in 2017. While some regions are well on their way to implementing the changes to GHS chemical labels and classification, others have yet to finalize the proposal’s adoption.

Depending on your company’s operating countries, you might have changes to make now to align with GHS 7 – or could even change the course of its adoption. Read about key dates and other developments in the US and Canada as well as in Australia and New Zealand.

What’s GHS chemical labels?

GHS is an international hazard classification system for chemicals created by the United Nations. The system aims to protect human health and the environment during chemicals’ handling, transport, and use by ensuring that information on the substances’ physical hazards and toxicity is available. As a UN initiative, the GHS aims to harmonize rules and regulations on chemicals on the national, regional, and worldwide levels.

What’s new in GHS chemical labels version 7?

In the 7th revised edition, main changes for GHS chemical labels and classification include:

  • New hazard categories and classes for: desensitized explosives, pyrophoric gases, chemically unstable gases, and non-flammable aerosols;
  • Updated precautionary statements (e.g., for some explosives, it will be necessary to add P503 “Refer to manufacturer/supplier for information on disposal/recovery/recycling”);
  • A clarified definition of hazardous chemicals to ensure all Category 2 eye irritants (i.e., irritating or mildly irritating to eyes) are captured;
  • A new example of what information needs to appear on fold-out labels for small containers.

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