Dangerous goods classes and hazard labels

There are 9 main classes of dangerous goods. Dangerous goods can present 1 or more of the hazards represented by Class 1 to 9. Some classes are split into divisions.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are usually available from the manufacturer for specific chemicals and dangerous goods. They are a useful tool for people to ensure that they are sending the goods under the correct classification.

Companies manufacturing their own products will often require a chemist or other specialist to determine that the product is correctly classified.

Hazard labels for dangerous goods

These labels must be clearly visible on the outside of the package and must stay on the package while it’s in transit.

The labels are often printed on most inner packages such as aerosol cans, bottles of bleach, containers of thinners, tins of paint, and many other products which are available at supermarkets and hardware stores.

Below are the 9 hazard labels for the 9 classes of dangerous goods.

Class 1 Explosives

3 signs with an orange background. First sign has a black exploding bomb. Second sign has the number 1.5. Third sign has the number 1.4.
Class 1 explosives

This includes items such as:

  • explosive substances
  • pyrotechnic devices
  • ammunition
  • fireworks
  • detonators.

Class 2 Gases

4 signs. First sign is red with a black flame. Second sign is green with a white gas cylinder. Third sign is green with a black gas cylinder. Fourth sign is white with black skull and bones.
Class 2 gases

These can be transported as compressed, liquefied, refrigerated liquefied or gas in solution. This includes aerosols. Class 2 has 3 divisions:

  • Division 2.1 - flammable gases such as:
    • butane
    • propane
  • Division 2.2 - non-flammable, non-toxic gases such as:
    • oxygen
    • liquid nitrogen
    • compressed air
  • Division 2.3 - toxic gases such as:
    • chlorine
    • hydrogen sulphide.

Class 3 Flammable liquids

Red sign with white flame and the number 3.
Class 3 flammable liquids

This includes liquids with a boiling point of 35⁰ C or less, or a flash point of 60⁰ C or less such as:

  • petrol
  • alcohol
  • perfumes
  • essential oils
  • hand sanitiser
  • paints.

Class 4 Flammable solids

3 signs with the number 4 at the bottom. First sign is red with black vertical strips and a black flame. Second sign is red and white with a black flame, bottom half is red and the top half is white. Third sign is blue with a black flame.
Class 4 flammable solids

These are substances that can spontaneously combust and substances, that when they come into contact with water or emit flammable gases. Class 4 has 3 divisions:

  • Division 4.1 - flammable solids such as:
    • hexamine solid fuel tablets for camping stoves
    • self-reactive substances
    • desensitised explosives
  • Division 4.2 - substances that can spontaneously combust under normal air transport conditions include:
    • camphor
    • sulphur
    • matches
  • Division 4.3 - substances that emit flammable gases when they come into contact with water include:
    • sodium
    • zinc particles
    • activated carbon.

Class 5 Oxidising substances and organic peroxides

3 signs. First sign is yellow with a black flame and the number 5.1. Second sign is red and yellow white with a white flame, bottom half is yellow and the top half is red. Third sign is red and yellow white with a black flame, bottom half is yellow and the top half is red
Class 5 oxidising substances organic peroxides

These substances are not necessarily combustible on their own but can react dangerously with other substances. Class 5 has 2 divisions:

  • Division 5.1 - oxidising substances that may not be necessarily combustible, but they may readily yield oxygen and cause other materials to combust, such as:
    • hydrogen peroxide
    • ammonium nitrate
    • potassium chlorate
    • sodium nitrate
  • Division 5.2 - organic peroxides are thermally unstable and can emit heat and give off harmful or flammable vapours. They can also be liable to explosive decomposition and react dangerously with other substances. Examples are:
    • acetyl acetone peroxide
    • benzoyl peroxide
    • peracetic acid.

Class 6 Toxic and infectious substances

2 white signs containg the number 6 at the bottom. First sign has black skull and bones. Second sign has a black toxic biohazard symbol.
Class 6 toxic infectious substances

These substances can cause sickness, injury or death if consumed. Class 6 has 2 divisions:

  • Division 6.1 - toxic substances that can cause death, injury or to harm human health if swallowed, inhaled or by skin contact, such as:
    • chloroform
    • arsenics
    • cyanides
    • cytotoxic waste
    • barium compounds
    • pesticides
  • Division 6.2 - infectious substances that contain or are expected to contain pathogens that can cause disease in humans or animals, including:
    • medical or clinical waste
    • patient specimens
    • genetically modified organisms
    • infectious substances
    • infected animals.

Class 7 Radioactive materials

5 signs. The first 3 signs are white and yellow and contain the word radioactive and the toxic symbol. The fourth sign contains the word Fissile. The 5th sign says 'Radioactive material, excepted package' and has UN in big letters - it has a red border.
Class 7 radioactive materials

These are substances that emit invisible ionising radiation that can be harmful to humans and animals. It can cause objects such as aircraft and equipment to become contaminated if not packaged and handled correctly, such as:

  • uranium
  • radioactive ores
  • isotypes
  • radium
  • cesium
  • x-ray equipment
  • medical equipment or parts.

Class 8 Corrosives

A black and white sign with the number 8. It shows an image of two test tubes. The test tube on the left is spilling a chemical onto a metal tube and burning a hole. The test tube on the right is spilling a chemical onto skin causing a burn.
Class 8 corrosives

These substances can cause irreversible damage if they come into contact with skin and could destroy other freight, or materially damage containers or aircraft. This includes:

  • acids
  • corrosive cleaners
  • battery fluid
  • formaldehyde
  • hydrofluoric acid.

Class 9 Miscellaneous

Sign shows a diamond shaped image with the bottom half showing different types of batteries. One battery has flames coming out of it. The top of the image shows black and white stripes. A second sign is the same but has no image of the batteries.
Class 9 miscellaneous

These are substances and articles which, during air transport, present a danger not covered by other classes. There are 2 types of handling labels – 1 for lithium battery shipments, and another for all other miscellaneous dangerous goods. This class includes:

  • lithium batteries
  • battery powered vehicles
  • battery powered equipment
  • first aid kids
  • environmentally hazardous substances
  • dry ice
  • magnetised materials
  • asbestos.

Handling labels

In addition to hazard labels, handling labels must be attached to all packaging and clearly visible where needed. You must use these 4 handling labels with the appropriate hazard labels:

Cargo aircraft only

This label is used to show that the load cannot be carried on a passenger aircraft.

Cyrogenics

This label is used on liquefied gases, such as the ones in Class 2.

This way up

This label ensures a load is placed the correct way up and can be used for non-dangerous goods.

Magnetised material

This label ensures that the load is kept away from the aircraft compass detector unit while being loaded and unloaded.

Last updated:
27 Jan 2022
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