Safety data sheet
A safety data sheet (SDS), material safety data sheet (MSDS), or product safety data sheet (PSDS) is an important component of product stewardship, occupational safety and health, and spill-handling procedures. SDS formats can vary from source to source within a country depending on national requirements.
SDSs are a widely used system for cataloging information on chemicals, chemical compounds, and chemical mixtures. SDS information may include instructions for the safe use and potential hazards associated with a particular material or product. The SDS should be available for reference in the area where the chemicals are being stored or in use.
There is also a duty to properly label substances on the basis of physico-chemical, health and/or environmental risk. Labels can include hazard symbols such as the European Union standard symbols.
A SDS for a substance is not primarily intended for use by the general consumer, focusing instead on the hazards of working with the material in an occupational setting.
It is important to use an SDS specific to both country and supplier, as the same product (e.g. paints sold under identical brand names by the same company) can have different formulations in different countries. The formulation and hazard of a product using a generic name may vary between manufacturers in the same country.
National and international requirements
In Canada, the program known as the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) establishes the requirements for SDSs in workplaces and is administered federally by Health Canada under the Hazardous Products Act, Part II, and the Controlled Products Regulations.
Safety data sheets have been made an integral part of the system of Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (REACH). The original requirements of REACH for SDSs have been further adapted to take into account the rules for safety data sheets of the Global Harmonised System (GHS) and the implementation of other elements of the GHS into EU legislation that were introduced by Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 (CLP) via an update to Annex II of REACH.
The SDS follows a 16 section format which is internationally agreed and for substances especially, the SDS should be followed with an Annex which contains the exposure scenarios of this particular substance. The SDS must be supplied in an official language of the Member State(s) where the substance or mixture is placed on the market, unless the Member State(s) concerned provide(s) otherwise (Article 31(5) of REACH).
The 16 sections are:
- SECTION 1: Identification of the substance/mixture and of the company/undertaking
- 1.1. Product identifier
- 1.2. Relevant identified uses of the substance or mixture and uses advised against
- 1.3. Details of the supplier of the safety data sheet
- 1.4. Emergency telephone number
- SECTION 2: Hazards identification
- 2.1. Classification of the substance or mixture
- 2.2. Label elements
- 2.3. Other hazards
- SECTION 3: Composition/information on ingredients
- 3.1. Substances
- 3.2. Mixtures
- SECTION 4: First aid measures
- 4.1. Description of first aid measures
- 4.2. Most important symptoms and effects, both acute and delayed
- 4.3. Indication of any immediate medical attention and special treatment needed
- SECTION 5: Firefighting measures
- 5.1. Extinguishing media
- 5.2. Special hazards arising from the substance or mixture
- 5.3. Advice for firefighters
- SECTION 6: Accidental release measure
- 6.1. Personal precautions, protective equipment and emergency procedures
- 6.2. Environmental precautions
- 6.3. Methods and material for containment and cleaning up
- 6.4. Reference to other sections
- SECTION 7: Handling and storage
- 7.1. Precautions for safe handling
- 7.2. Conditions for safe storage, including any incompatibilities
- 7.3. Specific end use(s)
- SECTION 8: Exposure controls/personal protection
- 8.1. Control parameters
- 8.2. Exposure controls
- SECTION 9: Physical and chemical properties
- 9.1. Information on basic physical and chemical properties
- 9.2. Other information
- SECTION 10: Stability and reactivity
- 10.1. Reactivity
- 10.2. Chemical stability
- 10.3. Possibility of hazardous reactions
- 10.4. Conditions to avoid
- 10.5. Incompatible materials
- 10.6. Hazardous decomposition products
- SECTION 11: Toxicological information
- 11.1. Information on toxicological effects
- SECTION 12: Ecological information
- 12.1. Toxicity
- 12.2. Persistence and degradability
- 12.3. Bioaccumulative potential
- 12.4. Mobility in soil
- 12.5. Results of PBT and vPvB assessment
- 12.6. Other adverse effects
- SECTION 13: Disposal considerations
- 13.1. Waste treatment methods
- SECTION 14: Transport information
- 14.1. UN number
- 14.2. UN proper shipping name
- 14.3. Transport hazard class(es)
- 14.4. Packing group
- 14.5. Environmental hazards
- 14.6. Special precautions for user
- 14.7. Transport in bulk according to Annex II of MARPOL73/78 and the IBC Code
- SECTION 15: Regulatory information
- 15.1. Safety, health and environmental regulations/legislation specific for the substance or mixture
- 15.2. Chemical safety assessment
- SECTION 16: Other information
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has published a guidance document on the compilation of safety data sheets.
The German Federal Water Management Act requires that substances be evaluated for negative influence on the physical, chemical or biological characteristics of water. These are classified into numeric water hazard classes (WGK or WHC, depending on whether you use the German or English abbreviation).
- WGK nwg: Non-water polluting substance
- WGK 1: Slightly water polluting substance
- WGK 2: Water polluting substance
- WGK 3: Highly water polluting substance
This section contributes to a better understanding of the regulations governing SDS within the South African framework. As regulations may change, it is the responsibility of the reader to verify the validity of the regulations mentioned in text.
As globalisation increased and countries engaged in cross-border trade, the quantity of hazardous material crossing international borders amplified. Realising the detrimental effects of hazardous trade, the United Nations established a committee of experts specialising in the transportation of hazardous goods. The committee provides best practises governing the conveyance of hazardous materials and goods for land including road and railway; air as well as sea transportation. These best practises are constantly updated to remain current and relevant.
There are various other international bodies who provide greater detail and guidance for specific modes of transportation such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) by means of the International Maritime Code and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) via the Technical Instructions for the safe transport of dangerous goods by air as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) who provides regulations for the transport of dangerous goods.
These guidelines prescribed by the international authorities are applicable to the South African land, sea and air transportation of hazardous materials and goods. In addition to these rules and regulations to International best practice, South Africa has also implemented common laws which are laws based on custom and practise. Common laws are a vital part of maintaining public order and forms the basis of case laws. Case laws, using the principles of common law are interpretations and decisions of statutes made by courts. Acts of parliament are determinations and regulations by parliament which form the foundation of statutory law. Statutory laws are published in the government gazette or on the official website. Lastly, subordinate legislation are the bylaws issued by local authorities and authorised by parliament.
Statutory law gives effect to the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 and the National Road Traffic Act of 1996. The Occupational Health and Safety Act details the necessary provisions for the safe handling and storage of hazardous materials and goods whilst the transport act details with the necessary provisions for the transportation of the hazardous goods.
Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 regulates the following:
- Provisions for safety equipment and facilities
- General safety regulations detailing protective clothing and first aid requirements
- National standards regulating pressure vessels such as gas
- Major hazard installations Act of 2001
- Regulations for hazardous chemical substances
- National standards on packaging, transportation and storing
- Transportation of explosives
- Safety signs
National Road Traffic Act of 1996 regulates the following:
- Transportation of goods in transit-containers
- Road transport quality system
- Transportation of explosives and radioactive substances –also governed by 2 other acts
- National standards for list of dangerous goods
- Training requirements
- Emergency documentation
Standards Act of 2008 gives effect to the South African National Standards and regulates the following:
- The development, promotion and conformity of the South African National Standards (SANS)
- Promotion of quality commodities, products and services
- Renders conformity assessment centres
There has been selective incorporation of aspects of the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals into South African legislation. At each point of the chemical value chain, there is a responsibility to manage chemicals in a safe and responsible manner. SDS is therefore required by law. A SDS is included in the requirements of Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act No.85 of 1993) Regulation 1179 dated 25 August 1995.
The categories of information supplied in the SDS are listed in SANS 11014:2010; dangerous goods standards – Classification and information. SANS 11014:2010 supersedes the first edition SANS 11014-1:1994 and is an identical implementation of ISO 11014:2009. According to SANS 11014:2010:
- With the exception of heading 16, all document headings must be populated. If information is not available, then the reason for non-availability shall be stated.
- The 16 headings of a SDS may include subheadings. However, the subheadings shall not be numbered.
- The text of the headings, numbering and sequence must not be altered.
- Every page of an SDS shall include the name of the chemical product as used on the label, and shall be dated and numbered.
- Where a specific serial number and revision date (version number) are written on the first page of an SDS, only the serial number and page may be entered on every page.
- Texts in an SDS should be written in a clear and concise manner. Commonly used phrases are recommended.
- A SDS should be in a language acceptable to the recipient.
- Of significance is the "Transport information" under which, if the substance is listed in the Dangerous Goods List, the UN number will be found along with other information such as the classification, emergency response guide number, packing group and subsidiary risk, if any.
The 16 headings required under SANS 11014:2010 are listed below.
Section 1 - Chemical product and company identification
This section specifies the following:
- The identification of the product (chemical name, supplier code, description, class, synonym and / or formulation) as used on the label. The name of the chemical product shall be the systematic chemical name or trivial; common or generic chemical name, as used on the label. If the systematic chemical name is long, it may be abbreviated, with an explanation of the abbreviation used.
- The name, address, telephone number, emergency telephone number, and optional fax number or e-mail address.
- The recommended uses and restrictions on uses of the chemical product.
- The date the SDS was prepared or date of last revision or review.
Section 2 - Hazards identification This section summarises important hazards and adverse effects of the chemical product on human health and the environment, as well as physical and chemical hazards such as chemical product-specific hazards, where appropriate.
Emergency response data and emergency symptoms should be highlighted. Detailed symptoms should be stated for Inhalation, skin, eye and ingestion.
The following should be addressed if the chemical is classified by the GHS classification system:
- Classification of the substance or mixture as per the GHS classification
- Label elements such as pictograms, symbols or signal words
- Other hazards which is not classified under GHS such as dust explosion.
- Any adaptation of the GHS classification for a specific country or reason should be clearly stated.
Section 3 - Composition/information on ingredients
This section states whether a chemical product is a substance or a mixture.
If it is a substance, the following details should be specified: the systematic chemical name, common name, synonym(s), Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number, other unique identifiers, impurities and stabilizing additives etc.
For mixtures, it is not necessary to give the full composition. However, If the level of a hazardous ingredient (as classified by GHS) is above the cut off limits, these limits, as well as concentration and concentration limits should be stated.
Section 4 - First aid measures
This section describes first-aid measures to be taken in the event of accidental exposure to the chemical or mixture. It should state which actions have to be avoided at all costs as well as step by step first aid measures for inhalation, skin contact, eye contact and ingestion.
Details should include the followiing:
- Description of first aid measures such as “remove from further exposure”, to “seek emergency medical advice.
- Most important symptoms / effects, both acute and delayed such as nausea. A detailed description of symptoms and effects should be given under section 11.
- Indication of any immediate medical attention and special treatment.
Additionally, advice for the protection of first aiders and/or special notes to attending physicians may be included here.
be included here.
Section 5 - Firefighting measures
This section details which extinguishing medium (water, powder or foam) should be used in the case of a fire as well as how a particular medium is either unsuitable or when it should be avoided. Depending on the chemical content of the hazardous substances, it is critical that the correct substance is used to avoid undesired behaviors and risks related to extinguishing fires. Various fire extinguishing equipment exists to handle various fire classes.
As prescribed in the SABS regulation of SANS 11014, the nature of the hazardous products should also be indicated in this section as well as the specific hazards that can potentially arise from the chemical product should also be indicated.
Specific extinguishing methods and protective equipment that the firefighters should use should be listed in this section as well.
Section 6 - Accidental release measures
Procedures and measures that should be implemented in the event of a leakage or unexpected release of the chemical substance while being transported are detailed in this section. The information is useful for emergency responders or environmental professionals. Specific details include:
- Personal precautions, protective equipment, and emergency procedures
- Environmental precautions
- Methods and materials for containment and procedures for cleaning up and recovering from the spillage (only if it is different to section 11).
- Disposal of the retrieved substances should be documented as well.
- Prevention measures for secondary disasters should also be detailed in this section.
Section 7 - Handling and storage
The handling and storage section details how the items in the package should be handled and stored, including any equipment that may be required. There are two sub-sections that deal with each element separately.
This section will detail all the required precautions that should be implemented to safely handle the chemical product e.g. “do not load with forklift”. Technical measures that indicate how to prevent exposure for the handler and the prevention of fires and explosions will also be detailed in this section to enable the parties responsible for handling to have a good understanding of how and what to do in the daily operation of the packages, in order to conduct business in a safe and responsible manner.
Details of how the product should be packed and arranged to avoid contact with other items that are incompatible and could lead to a disaster if combined are also listed. Items that should be kept apart from each other could result in substantially greater risks as chemical compounds change properties once combined. It is necessary to consider all possible hazards (e.g. fire, reactivity, health) when developing safe handling procedures.
This subsection will detail the recommended and preferred storage conditions for the items contained in the package (e.g. ventilation requirements). To ensure that the product is safely stored, certain criteria (temperature, humidity, in or out of direct sunlight) should be adhered to and should be explicitly mentioned. Items might require certain proximity requirements from incompatible compounds and these will be listed as well.
Section 8 - Exposure controls and personal protection
This section indicates the exposure limits, engineering controls, and personal protective measures that can be used to minimize worker exposure. The following must be clearly stated:
- Recommendations on appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (e.g. respiratory protection, hand protection, eye protection, skin and body protection).
- The limit of human contact or environment interaction.
- Where applicable, control for risk limits must be provided in alignment with section 7.
- The origin and allowable limits of exposure.
- PPE for inhaling and all body parts for prevention.
- The type of protective equipment and specifically designated material (e.g., type of glove material, such as PVC or nitrile rubber gloves; and breakthrough time of the glove material) shall be stated.
- Special precautions for specific chemicals.
Section 9 - Physical and chemical properties
The section identifies physical and chemical properties associated with the chemical or mixture. As per SANS 11014:2010 this should address: appearance of the chemical (e.g. physical state, form, and colour), odour, pH(with indication of concentration), melting / freezing point, boiling point, initial boiling point and boiling range, flash point, upper/lower flammability or explosive limits, vapour pressure, vapour density, density / relative density, solubility(ies), evaporation rate, flammability (solid, gas), n-octanol/water partition coefficient, auto-ignition temperature, decomposition temperature, and / or viscosity. An indication of values must use SI system, as per ISO 1000 and ISO 80000-9.
The information in this section is used to help determine the conditions under which the material may be hazardous.
Section 10 - Stability and reactivity
This section indicates chemical or mixture stability and state the conditions under which it is unstable or can react dangerously. As per SANS 11014:2010 this should address:
- Conditions to avoid (e.g. static discharge, shock, vibrations, or environmental conditions that may lead to hazardous conditions);
- Incompatible materials (e.g., classes of chemicals or specific substances) with which the chemical could react to produce a hazardous situation;
- Hazardous decomposition products that could be produced during usage, storage, or heating other than those usually produced, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and water. Hazardous combustion products should also be included in Section 5 of the SDS.
Section 11 - Toxicological information
This section of the document must reflect accurate and comprehensive descriptions of various toxicological (health) effects the product may have. The information required and available for identifying these effects should include:
- The measure of toxicity expressed in a numerical format. For instance as estimates of acute toxicity.
- Reflecting the physical, chemical and toxicological characteristics of the substance and their symptoms.
- Explanation of the various forms of exposure (e.g. single exposure, repeated exposure and continuous exposure) and different exposure routes (e.g. inhalation, skin contact, eye contact, ingestion).
- The effects caused by both long and short term exposure whether it be delayed or immediate in nature.
Section 12 - Ecological information
This section describe the substances effects and reaction to ecological factors; i.e. impact of the chemical(s) if it were released to the environment. This includes:
- Anticipated behaviour of a chemical product in environment / ecotoxicity (e.g., acute or chronic aquatic toxicity data for fish, algae, and other plants; toxicity data on birds, bees, plants).
- Degradability and persistence; i.e. how the chemical degrade over time (e.g. biodegradation, or though other processes such as oxidation or hydrolysis).
- Bioaccumulative potential, making reference to the octanol-water partition coefficient (Kow) and the bioconcentration factor (BCF), where available.
- The extent of mobility in soil; i.e. sate any test results of soil absorption or leaching for the chemical.
- Any adverse effects to the environmental, ozone layer, photochemical ozone, or global warming.
Section 13 - Disposal considerations
This section gives guidance on proper disposal practices, recycling or reclamation of the chemical(s) or its container, and safe handling practices. Detailed information should be presented in terms of any packaging which may be contaminated. Specify safe handling procedure, methods of disposal, disposal of contaminated packaging, and / or special precautions for landfills or incineration activities.
To minimize exposure, this section should also refer the reader to Section 8 of the SDS.
Section 14 - Transport information
This section describe to the user with mode of transport, how to identify and describe the goods. The modes that requires to be declare for land, sea and air. The declaration inform the user of any special requirement that they may need to be aware of.
The UN Model regulations was structure taken into account the containment, chemical character, physical character and response to the goods. The criteria that requires to be met:
- UN number- the number allocated by UN Model regulations
- UN proper shipping name - to correctly identify the character of product (aerosols or pyrethroid pesticide, liquid, toxic )
- Transport hazard class(es) – to which of the nine classes does product belong to.
- Packing group – the packing group describing the danger level / risk factor.( Packing Group I = High Danger; II Medium Danger; III Low Danger)
- Environmental hazards – The users need to be made aware of the risk that the product may have on the environment such as being marine pollutant and may kill fish when comes in contact. Reference can also be made to what can happen to trees.
- Special precautions for user- Instruction can give to special handling during transport can be stipulated with in the section.
- Transport in bulk according to Annex II of MARPOL73/78 and the IBC Code
Section 15 - Regulatory information
This section provides the safety, health, and environmental laws applicable to the chemical or mixture. In can be international, national or regional laws where the SDS is applied. It must focus on the local regulation aspects that may be applicable that the users need to study.
Section 16 - Other information
Any other important safety elements that may be declared to the users if not clearly addressed in any of the above section headings will be included under section 16. Information such as training or specific restrictions that may apply to the mixture/product will be included. Any special or additional information to assist the users to control and handling the product may be stated within this section.
Dutch Safety Data Sheets are well known as veiligheidsinformatieblad nl:Veiligheidsinformatieblad or Chemiekaarten. This is a collection of Safety Data Sheets of the most widely used chemicals. The Chemiekaarten boek is commercially available, but also made available through educational institutes, such as the web site offered by the university of Groningen
In the U.K., the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2002 - known as CHIP Regulations - impose duties upon suppliers, and importers into the EU, of hazardous materials.
NOTE: Safety data sheets (SDS) are no longer covered by the CHIP regulations. The laws that require a SDS to be provided have been transferred to the European REACH Regulations. http://www.hse.gov.uk/chip/
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations govern the use of hazardous substances in the workplace in the UK and specifically require an assessment of the use of a substance. Regulation 12 requires that an employer provides employees with information, instruction and training for people exposed to hazardous substances. This duty would be very nearly impossible without the data sheet as a starting point. It is important for employers therefore to insist on receiving a data sheet from a supplier of a substance.
The duty to supply information is not confined to informing only business users of products. SDSs for retail products sold by large DIY shops are usually obtainable on those companies' web sites.
Web sites of manufacturers and large suppliers do not always include them even if the information is obtainable from retailers but written or telephone requests for paper copies will usually be responded to favourably.
In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that SDSs be readily available to all employees for potentially harmful substances handled in the workplace under the Hazard Communication regulation. The SDS is also required to be made available to local fire departments and local and state emergency planning officials under Section 311 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The American Chemical Society defines Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Numbers (CAS numbers) which provide a unique number for each chemical and are also used internationally in SDSs.
Reviews of material safety data sheets by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board have detected dangerous deficiencies.
The board’s Combustible Dust Hazard Study analyzed 140 data sheets of substances capable of producing combustible dusts. None of the SDSs contained all the information the board said was needed to work with the material safely, and 41 percent failed to even mention that the substance was combustible.
As part of its study of an explosion and fire that destroyed the Barton Solvents facility in Valley Center, Kansas, in 2007, the safety board reviewed 62 material safety data sheets for commonly used nonconductive flammable liquids. As in the combustible dust study, the board found all the data sheets inadequate.
In 2012, the US adopted the 16 section Safety Data Sheet to replace Material Safety Data Sheets. This became effective on December 1, 2013. These new Safety Data Sheets comply with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). By June 1, 2015, employers were required to have their workplace labeling and hazard communication programs updated as necessary – including all MSDSs replaced with SDS-formatted documents.
Many companies offer the service of collecting, or writing and revising, data sheets to ensure they are up to date and available for their subscribers or users. Some jurisdictions impose an explicit duty of care that each SDS be regularly updated, usually every three to five years. However, when new information becomes available, the SDS must be revised without delay.
- 1 National and international requirements
- 1.1 Canada
- 1.2 European Union
- 1.3 Germany
- 1.4 South Africa
- 1.5 The Netherlands
- 1.6 United Kingdom
- 1.7 United Nations
- 1.8 United States
- 2 SDS authoring