Chemical Labelling - Guidelines

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1. Purpose and Objectives

All chemicals, both stored and in use, must be adequately labelled regardless of their hazard classification. However, hazardous chemicals have specific legislative requirements for labelling in regards to manufacturer labelling, decanted chemicals and chemical waste. The guideline provides information to assist compliance with labelling hazardous chemicals.

2. Definition, Terms, Acronyms

ADG - Australian Dangerous Goods Code

GHS - Globally Harmonised System

SUSDP - Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Drugs and Poisons

3. Guideline Scope

This guideline applies to hazardous chemicals, as described in the Queensland Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, which are stored or used by the University.

4. Guideline Statement

All organisational units have a responsibility to ensure that hazardous chemicals are correctly stored and labelled. This guideline will aid UQ staff and students to understand their obligations and to apply the recommended protocols.

5. Labelling Requirements

5.1 Legislative requirements

All chemical packages, containers, tanks or bulk stores must be marked to clearly show identity and hazard of the goods stored. The requirements for the labelling of packages are detailed in the following codes of practice and regulations:

  • Part 7 (Hazardous Chemicals) and Schedule 9 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011;
  • Australian Dangerous Goods Code 7;
  • Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice 2011 (Queensland);
  • Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Drugs and Poisons.

Currently (June 2014) there is a transition between the present Dangerous Goods (DG) and new Globally Harmonised System (GHS) applying to manifests, safety data sheets, placards and labelling. For chemicals in use at the workplace the transition to GHS labelling must be complete by 2016, and at present most research chemicals are supplied with GHS labelling.

5.2 Labels for supplier packages

Labels of packages received directly from a manufacturer or distributor will contain information as specified by each of the above requirements. Depending on the size of the container, the label may include all or some of the following details:

  • Chemical name, or ingredients and formulation details;
  • Proper shipping name or approved name (SUSDP);
  • UN Number (if issued), DG or GHS pictogram, along with appropriate risk, safety and other warnings as per DG, GHS or SUSDP labelling requirements;
  • Additional safety directions and warnings;
  • First aid and emergency procedures;
  • Expiry date if relevant;
  • Name and address of the manufacturer, distributor.

5.3 Labels for decanted chemicals

Where chemicals are decanted or dispensed into other containers these new containers must also be fully labelled unless the chemicals are used immediately or are under the direct control of the worker for immediate use e.g. for processing or analysis.

Labels for decanted packages are the same as for the original container. As a minimum the following is required – chemical name, GHS class symbol and risk and safety phrases. Do not label containers of decanted chemicals with a marking pen. Labels for decanted chemicals can be printed from Chemwatch.

Example Label for Decanted Chemicals


If the container into which the hazardous chemical is decanted is small, it may not provide sufficient room for label information. In this case the label should be attached to a supporting device or container. For example, in the case of a test tube, the label may be attached to the test tube rack. Alternatively a tag with the required label information may also be used.

5.4 Unlabelled containers/unknown chemicals

If the container is not labelled and the contents of the container not known, the container should be marked:

"Caution do not use: unknown chemical"

A container of an unknown chemical should be stored away from other chemicals where it cannot be used until its contents can be identified and the container appropriately labelled. If the contents cannot be identified, they should be disposed of following the University Waste Management Procedures.

5.5 Labels for chemical waste

The labelling of chemical waste is the same as decanted chemicals, but DG labelling information must be used because the container will be transported. The Chemstore will provide a fully compliant label, along with a suitable container for all chemical waste generated at UQ. Go to the Chemstore: and select 'Chemical Waste Requests'.

5.6 Labels for systems or equipment containing chemicals

Where a chemical is contained in an enclosed system, such as a process vessel or pipe, it must be clearly identified by a system appropriate to the circumstances. Australian standard AS1345: Identification of the contents of pipes, conduits and ducts is appropriate for pipe work.

In the laboratory, batches of samples for test in equipment such as protein analysers, gas or liquid chromatography instruments should be marked so that any hazard is identified. Individual tubes or vials do not need to be marked.

6. Contacts for Further Information

Occupational Hygiene Advisors:

University Chemical Store: or

Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael