Understanding Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

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While most of us have seen Safety Data Sheets (SDS), previously known as a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) how many actually know and understand them?

Unfortunately, a Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) which includes vessel owners simply have them because they have too!

SDS are a valuable tool in ensuring workers (including crew members) health and safety by providing critical information about hazardous substances. A SDS includes information on:

  • The chemical’s identity and ingredients
  • Health and physical hazards
  • Safe handling and storage procedures
  • Emergency procedures
  • Disposal considerations

A SDS is a valuable tool for assessing and managing the risks associated with the use of hazardous chemicals in workplaces.’

WHS Regulation section 330 specifies that a manufacturer or importer to prepare and provide safety data sheets.

A chemical that is not hazardous does not require a SDS however if ones available it’s a good idea to have it on hand for general safety reasons.

Note that all SDS are to be prepared in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals.

A SDS must:

  • be in English
  • contain units of measurement expressed in Australian legal units of measurements
  • state the date it was last reviewed or if it has not been reviewed the date it was prepared
  • state the name , Australian address and business telephone number of the manufacturer or importer
  • state an Australian business telephone number from which information about the chemical can be obtained in an emergency

A SDS for a hazardous chemical must state the following information about the chemical:

  • Section 1 – Identification: Product identifier and chemical entity
  • Section 2 – Hazard(s) identification
  • Section 3 – Composition and information on ingredients
  • Section 4 – First aid measures
  • Section 5 – Firefighting measures
  • Section 6 – Accidental release measures
  • Section 7 – Handling and storage including how the chemical may be safely stored
  • Section 8 – Exposure controls and personal protection
  • Section 9 – Physical and chemical properties
  • Section 10 – Stability and reactivity
  • Section 11 – Toxicological information
  • Section 12 – Ecological information
  • Section 13 – Disposal considerations
  • Section 14 – Transport information
  • Section 15 – Regulatory information
  • Section 16 – Any other relevant information

As you can see there is a lot of information in a SDS, information that is vital to the business/vessel owner/operator, end user and emergency services in the event of an incident.

While all the above sections are important the key sections relevant to the user are:

  • Section 2 – Hazard(s) identification
  • Section 4 – First aid measures
  • Section 5 – Firefighting measures
  • Section 6 – Accidental release measures
  • Section 7 – Handling and storage including how the chemical may be safely stored
  • Section 8 – Exposure controls and personal protection
  • Section 13 – Disposal considerations
  • Section 16 – Any other relevant information

There is a twist to the requirement for SDS that if you purchase a household use product from a general retailer in domestic use sizes then a SDS is not required. Even though it’s not required it’s still a good idea to have one if you purchase any quantities of household use products.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend you comply with three import things:

  1. You have SDS for all chemical and/or hazards materials you store or use;
  2. All SDS are current; and
  3. Workers, including crew members who use or handle the product have easy access to all SDS.

Tip

While having SDS stored on electronic devices such as computers, tablets, etc. saves a lot of paper in the event that power is lost due to a fire or other reason you cannot access your SDS. Our best tip is to ensure you have hard copies available.