Safety data sheet

"MSDS" redirects here. For the video game, see MapleStory DS.
An example SDS in a US format provides guidance for handling a hazardous substance and information on its composition and properties.

A safety data sheet (SDS),[1] 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 SDS's in workplaces and is administered federally by Health Canada under the Hazardous Products Act, Part II, and the Controlled Products Regulations.

European Union

Safety data sheets have been made an integral part of the system of Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (REACH).[2] 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)[3] and the implementation of other elements of the GHS into EU legislation that were introduced by Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 (CLP)[4] via an update to Annex II of REACH.[5]

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.[6] 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:[7]

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).

South Africa

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.

Regulatory Framework

As globalisation increased and countries engaged in cross-border trade, the quantity of hazardous material crossing international borders amplified.[8] Realising the detrimental effects of hazardous trade, the United Nations established a committee of experts specialising in the transportation of hazardous goods.[9] 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[10] and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) via the Technical Instructions for the safe transport of dangerous goods by air[11] 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[12] regulates the following:

National Road Traffic Act of 1996[13] regulates the following:

Standards Act of 2008[14] gives effect to the South African National Standards and regulates the following:

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.[16] 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:

The 16 headings required under SANS 11014:2010 are listed below.

Section 1 - Chemical product and company identification

This section specifies the following:

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:

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:

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.[17] Specific details include:

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.[17]

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:

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.[17]

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.[17] As per SANS 11014:2010 this should address:

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:

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:

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.[18] 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:

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.

The Netherlands

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[19]

United Kingdom

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.[20]

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.

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.[21] 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.

United Nations

The United Nations (UN) defines certain details used in SDSs such as the UN numbers used to identify some hazardous materials in a standard form while in international transit....

United States

In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that SDSs be available to 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.[22] 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.[23]

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 are required to have their workplace labeling and hazard communication programs updated as necessary – including all MSDS's replaced with SDS-formatted documents.[24]

SDS authoring

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.[25]

See also


  1. Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
  2. Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), establishing a European Chemicals Agency, amending Directive 1999/45/EC and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 793/93 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1488/94 as well as Council Directive 76/769/EEC and Commission Directives 91/155/EEC, 93/67/EEC, 93/105/EC and 2000/21/EC (OJ L 396, 30.12.2006, corrected version in OJ L136, 29.5.2007, p.3).
  4. Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures amending and repealing Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC, and amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (OJ L 353, 31.12.2008, p.1)
  5. Commission Regulation (EU) No 453/2010 of 20 May 2010 amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) (O.J. L133 31.05.2010, p1-43)
  7.,522140:cs,521353:cs,516832:cs,&pos=4&page=1&nbl=4&pgs=10&hwords=&checktexte=checkbox&visu=#texte Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. Janelle, Donald G; Beuthe, Michel (1997). "Globalization and research issues in transportation" (PDF). Journal of Transport Geography. Elsevier Science Ltd. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  9. Dangerous Goods Digest - The Orange Book of Southern Africa. Foresight Publications. 2015.
  10. "About IMO". Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  11. "Annex 18". Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  12. "Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act No. 85 of 1993)". Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  13. "National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act No. 93 of 1996)". Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  14. "Standards Act, 2008 (Act No. 8 of 2008)". Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  15. "SABS - ABOUT SABS OVERVIEW". Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  16. "Health and safety laws update July 2015". Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  17. 1 2 3 4 "The MSDS A Basic Guide For Users - International Version". Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  18. "Occupational Safety & Health Administration". Hazard Communication Standard: Safety Data Sheets. 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  19. Dutch chemiekaarten
  22. U.S Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, Investigation Report, Combustible Dust Hazard Study, Report No. 2006-H-1, November 2006, pp. 38, 88-95
  24. "GHS Overview - SafeTec". Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  25. European Chemicals Agency (2013). Guidance in a Nutshell - Compilation of safety data sheets (REACH Regulation). Version 1.0. p. 7.
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