Helping Make Sense of SDSs

Shown here is an example of a GHS SDS authored by RMT for USA (OSHA) and Canadian (WHMIS) regulations. Although the requirements vary from region to region, SDSs are typically 6–7 pages long and contain the following 16 separate sections each with specific information relating to the chemical being used, handled, stored, transported or disposed.

Contains the product identifier or trade name,  contact details of the manufacturer or importer responsible for supplying the chemical, and the telephone number to contact in case of an emergency. The information in this section should be consistent with the label.

Gives details on the potential health and physical hazards of the chemical. This information can be used to help assess the risks to the health and safety of workers, other people, and the environment. The information in this section should be consistent with the information on the label. In some cases there may be more information on the SDS than on the label.

If the chemical is a mixture, this section should provide the information on the identity and proportions of hazardous ingredients in the mixture.

Describes the necessary first aid measures to be taken in case of an accident.

Gives specific information on fighting a fire involving the chemical, including the most suitable extinguishing media and other protective measures.

Describes what actions need to be taken if there is an accidental release or spill of the chemical to minimise adverse effects on people, property and the environment.

Contains details on how to handle and store the chemical safely to minimise the potential risks to people, property and the environment.

Provides information on control measures that can be used to reduce exposure, for example, engineering controls, information on exposure standards and guidance on required personal protective equipment (PPE).

Provides detailed information on the physical and chemical properties of the chemical, for example, appearance, odour, pH, flash point, melting/boiling point or any other relevant physical data.

Contains details of any hazardous reactions that may occur if the chemical is used under certain conditions and details of any incompatible materials

Provides detailed information on the toxicological properties of the chemical. This section is used primarily by medical professionals, toxicologists and WHS professionals.

Provides detailed information on the ecological hazard properties of the chemical.

Explains how the chemical should be disposed of correctly or recycled or reclaimed.

Contains basic classification information like UN number and transport hazard classes and packing groups that relate to the transport of the chemical by road, rail, sea or air.

Provides advice on other international or national regulatory information specific to the chemical, such as the Montreal protocol (ozone depleting substances), the Stockholm Convention(Persistent organic pollutants) or any other applicable prohibition, notification or licensing requirements.

Provides any other information relevant to the preparation of the SDS, including the date of its preparation, a key or legend to abbreviations acronyms and references used.