Skip to main content

The consistent classification and labelling of petroleum substances is essential to understand their hazards, to ensure their correct handling and to protect people.  It is not straightforward due to the complex nature and chemistry of the substances.

Consistent application of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) (which addresses classification of chemicals by types of hazard and harmonized hazard communication elements, including labels and safety data sheets) requires an understanding of the influence of refining processes on the chemical composition of various process streams as well as an understanding of the physical and chemical similarities of stream groupings. Classification is important in order that consistent toxicity and environmental information is available on each of the groups of petroleum substances.

IPIECA has issued the Guidance on the application of Globally Harmonized System (GHS) criteria to petroleum substances to facilitate appropriate classification and labelling of petroleum substances within the Unknown or Variable Composition, Complex Reaction Products or Biological Materials (UVCB) group. It was developed with input from experienced technical experts in petroleum substance toxicology and addresses crude oil and petroleum substances produced from oil and gas operations.

IPIECA developed this guidance through close consultation with the UN Sub-Committee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (Sub-Committee or UNSCEGHS). The guidance promotes the global harmonization of hazard classification of petroleum substances broadly traded in international commerce. Additional benefits include:

  • Application of the “grouping” or “category” concept, resulting in a full use of available data - minimizing the need for animal testing;
  • Transparent use of GHS principles for the classification of complex, multi constituent substances;
  • Consistent and reliable classification of petroleum substances, resulting in appropriate hazard communication aiming to reduce the risks arising from the storage and handling of petroleum substances; and
  • Consistent classification - reducing costs for industry and countries.