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What are safety data sheets?

Chemical risk management in the workplace is a requirement for chemical companies to remain compliant with their associated product legislation. A safety data sheet (SDS), or material safety data sheet (MSDS), is a document that includes product information such as the properties of each chemical, related hazards, protective measures and safety precautions. 

In addition to protecting the environment and meeting sustainable product regulations, the main objective of chemical safety data sheets is to ensure the protection of workers handling hazardous materials in occupational settings. 

Sections of safety data sheets

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) includes an internationally standardized format with 16 sections that covers the following safety data sheets requirements: 

  1. Identification: Includes a product identifier and related uses and restrictions, as well as contact information. 
  2. Hazards identification: Covers the hazards of the substance and the associated warning information. 
  3. Composition and information on ingredients: Details the ingredients contained in the product, as well as impurities and stabilizing additives. 
  4. First-aid measures: Describes the medical procedure when someone is exposed to the substance. 
  5. Fire-fighting measures: Contains recommendations for fighting a fire caused by the chemical. 
  6. Accidental release measures: Employed in situations involving chemical spills, leaks or emissions. It also contains guidelines provided for containing and managing the cleanup process to reduce potential contact or harm. 
  7. Handling and storage: Provides guidelines for safe handling and storage. 
  8. Exposure controls and personal protection: Gives information on the permissible levels of exposure, engineering safeguards, and recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) to mitigate potential risks to workers. 
  9. Physical and chemical properties: Those related with the substance or mixture. 
  10.  Stability and reactivity: Comprises details of the potential hazards associated with the chemical’s reactivity and information about its stability. 
  11. Toxicological information: Identifies toxicological and health effects information.
  12. Ecological information: Provides information to assess the potential environmental consequences that may arise from the release of the substance into the environment. 
  13. Disposal considerations: Offers instructions on appropriate methods for disposing of the chemical, recycling or reclaiming both the chemical or its container, and practicing safe handling procedures. 
  14. Transport information: Includes guidelines for the shipping and transportation. 
  15. Regulatory information: Safety, health and environmental regulations specific to the chemical substance or mixture not indicated anywhere else in the SDS. 
  16. Other information: Related to the information on the preparation and revision of the SDS.

Background of Safety Data Sheets

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) was created by the United Nations to standardize and harmonize all hazard and safety information of chemicals and avoid confusion between regulatory bodies of different nations. 

Prior to this, chemical hazard information was typically inconsistent and unsafe working conditions were commonplace in international trade. The same chemical substance sometimes had different hazard descriptions in different countries, therefore neglecting to guarantee the appropriate protection of workers. 

The GHS has been integrated into the regulatory systems and legislation of different countries to ensure the protection of workers around the world. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations in the United States, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) in the United Kingdom and the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) in the European Union all require manufacturers of hazardous materials to deliver a safety data sheet to their buyers.

Automation of Safety Data Sheets with PIM

With a large variety of hazardous materials and specific product information, meeting product requirements and remaining complaint can become a very complex task to manufacturers of these substances. 

Safety Data Sheets often contain inaccurate or missing information, which could incur penalties or legal consequences to the manufacturer. Our Product Information Management (PIM) platform offers several benefits to chemical suppliers: 

  • Centralize your data for a single source of truth. You can avoid misinformation and errors by using a centralized system that allows you to have employees from different departments working with up-to-date product information. This is crucial to chemical suppliers who need to periodically review, revise, and update their safety data sheets immediately if any change is made.
  • Identify missing requirements. Thanks to our Quality Score, you can track products that have missing information fields to avoid incomplete product information and non-compliance. 

Moreover, with our recent ChatGPT integration, chemical companies can generate product descriptions with AI, allowing chemical companies to focus on regulatory compliance rather than non-mandated information by automating it. 

Start your free 30-day trial and try Sales Layer for yourself. You can also have a free consultation with one of our PIM specialists to discover more about our tool and see if it is a right fit for you. 

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