Globally Harmonised System (GHS) – Chemical Labelling

The Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulations are a European Union directive, as the UK has left the EU the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) will be adopted. The GHS classification was developed by the United Nations to allow the consistent identification of hazardous chemicals.

The Labels

Flammable. The flame sign indicates that a substance is a possible fire hazard. Either the substance itself is flammable, or it gives off flammable gas. It includes substances that could ignite when exposed to water or air, and other forms of fire-related hazards.

Explosive. Explosive materials are represented by a pictogram of an exploding bomb. These extremely dangerous materials are highly unstable, self-reacting (no exposure to air is necessary to cause an explosion) and includes organic peroxides.


Gas under pressure. The gas cylinder symbol signifies gasses under pressure. The gas could be a variety of forms – liquefied, dissolved or compressed. Caution must be taken in the vicinity of pressurised gas cylinders any puncture or a leak could lead to an explosion or harmful effects to human health.

Oxidising. The flame over a circle image warns of the presents of oxidizers. Oxidizers are chemical compounds which release oxygen when reacting with other substances and enable burning to occur or increase the intensity of fires, making them burn fierier and longer. They should never be stored with flammable materials.

Acute toxicity. The skull and crossbones specifies toxicity. It could prove fatal if the toxic substance was swallowed, inhaled or came into with contact skin. Even small quantities could be deadly.


Corrosive. This hazardous image of a human hand being burnt in to by a liquid on the left-hand side and a piece of metal suffering the same damage on the right, It is indicating that the chemical has the potential to create corrosive burns to human tissue and metal.


Health hazard/Hazardous to the ozone layer . The exclamation mark alerts users to substances that could cause immediate harm either as an irritant to skin and eyes or has the toxicity to be fatal. Also, indicates a substance hazardous to the ozone layer.

Serious health hazard. This health hazard symbolises the profile of a human torso featuring six-pointed geometric star figure. This image means that contact with the substance could cause acute or chronic health issues, such as respiratory problems and cancer.

Hazardous to the environment. Deceased fish and dead tree pictogram indicates a chemical is toxic to aquatic life and the environment. This is the only optional sign in the GHS range, so it may not appear on all substances known to be severely detrimental to aquatic life.

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