Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemical

Role of Safety Data Sheets in the Harmonized System

Safety Data Sheets are an essential component of the GHS and are intended to provide comprehensive information about a substance or mixture for use in workplace chemical management. In the GHS, they serve the same function that the Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS does in OSHA’s HazCom Standard.

They are used as a source of info about hazards, including environmental hazards, and to obtain advice on safety precautions. The SDS is normally product related and not specific to workplace; nevertheless, the information on an SDS enables the employer to:

Develop an active program of worker protection measures, including training, which is specific to the workplace.Consider measures necessary to protect the environment.

SDS also provides important source of information for other target audience in the GHS so certain elements may be used for the transport of dangerous goods, emergency responders (including poison centers), and those involved in the professional use pesticides and consumers.

Criteria for Determining Whether an SDS Should be produced

An SDS should be produced for substances and mixtures which meet the harmonized criteria for physical, health, or environmental hazards under the GHS and for all mixtures which contain ingredients that meet the criteria for carcinogenic, toxic to reproduction or specific target organ toxicity in concentrations exceeding the cut-off limits for SDS specified by the criteria for mixtures.

Competent authorities may also require SDSs for mixtures not meeting the criteria for classification but containing hazardous ingredients in certain concentrations.

SDS Format

Information in the SDS should be presented using the following 16 headings in the order given below:

  1. Identification

  2. Hazard(s) identification

  3. Composition/information on ingredients

  4. First-aid measures

  5. Fire-fighting measure

  6. Accidental release measures

  7. Handling and Storage

  8. Exposure controls/personal protection

  9. Physical and chemical properties

  1. Stability and reactivity

  2. Toxicological information

  3. Ecological information

  4. Disposal considerations

  5. Transport information

  6. Regulatory information

  7. Other information 

SDS Content

SDSs should provide a clear description of the data used to identify the hazards. The minimum information for each section listed above should be included. If specific information is not applicable or not available under a particular sub-heading, the SDS should clearly state this. Some subheadings are national or regional in nature and SDSs should contain such information as is relevant for the area the SDSs are intended. 

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