Safety data sheet definition

Safety data sheet definition: The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is an accepted and effective method that contains relevant information for the consignee of chemical substances and mixtures. The SDS specifies the particularities, properties and dangerousness of a certain substance or mixture. The SDS provides useful and necessary information for the company and workers who are going to use the product.

Contact with dangerous substances in the workplace creates a high risk for those who handle it, but most accidents are completely avoidable. The organization that uses chemicals must put all its efforts into the prevention of risks to human health and the protection of the environment. The topic Safety data sheet definition related to handling, storage, transport, waste management, measures to take in a risky situation and first aid advice is also covered.

Safety data sheet definition means protecting, informing, training and preventing workers from chemical hazards. But how can we get it? And to achieve this, we have tools of proven effectiveness such as Safety Data Sheets at our fingertips. Join us and, throughout the article Safety data sheet definition, you will discover how the SDS can help us in the essential work of risk prevention in chemical handling, using and storing.

What is the safety data sheet definition?

In accordance with the United Nations, Purple Book on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemical Products, GHS (Fifth Revised Edition 2013), the Safety Data Sheet or SDS of a chemical product serves to provide information on a substance or mixture for safe use in the workplace. 

Safety data sheet definition
Safety data sheet definition

SDSs are an important element of GHS hazard communication. This must provide information with a view to protecting workers and the environment, as well as for national and international trade: 

  • An SDS must be prepared for all substances and mixtures that meet the GHS harmonized criteria for physical, health or environmental hazards and for all mixtures containing components that meet the criteria for carcinogenicity, toxicity to reproduction or specific target organ toxicity at concentrations that exceed the concentration limits.

What can you find in the SDS to protect yourself?

A document containing detailed information on the chemical product or preparation and on the component hazardous chemicals such as physical and chemical properties, information on health, safety, fire, and environmental risks. In addition to information on the nature of a chemical, an SDS should also provide information on how to work with them safely and what to do if there is an accidental spill. 

Who is responsible for providing SDS?

Suppliers must incorporate the “new and significant” information they receive about the dangers of a chemical product, updating the corresponding label and safety data sheet. Chemical manufacturers and distributors must prepare and submit the SDS with the first shipment of any hazardous chemical and the employer is responsible for making these sheets available to workers. 

Chemical suppliers have to provide”Significant new information” means any information that modifies the GHS classification of the substance or mixture.  This update may be derived, for example, from the publication of new data or trial results on possible adverse effects of a chronic nature on health, even when said data does not entail a modification of the existing classification. 

The update should be done quickly once information is received that makes a revision necessary. 

What is the purpose of a Safety Data sheet?

The introduction of the SDS was intended to reduce the hazards associated with the production, transport, storage and use of chemical substances and mixtures classified as hazardous to health or the environment. Your measurable outcome should primarily be workplace safety. The SDS specifies the applications for which the substance/mixture can be used and the working conditions that must be provided.

Safety data sheet definition
Safety data sheet definition

The main recipients of the safety data sheets are the people who carry out professional activities related to the use of a certain material. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide the information contained in the SDS in a format that allows risk management in the specific workplace. All employees who have physical contact with chemical products must have access to the information contained in the safety data sheet.

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For hazardous substances, the absence of an SDS makes the work in question illegal and unauthorized. Well-prepared and reliable safety data sheets help ensure proper working conditions with chemicals and select appropriate measures to protect health and the environment. The adequacy of the handling of chemical products to the requirements described in the SDS prevents life-threatening accidents and environmental disasters, thus protecting the well-being of employees and company property.

  • For workers who may be exposed to dangerous products.
  • For Preventive Service
  • For emergency personnel ( firefighters) who may clean up a spill or leak.
  • Composition/information on ingredients.

Safety Data Sheet sections

Safety data sheet definition
Safety data sheet definition

A Safety Data Sheet consists of 16 sections. This specific data can serve as a clue to know whether we have an official document in front of us or not. Next, you will find each of the sections that must be completed listed:

  1. Identification of the substance or preparation: Supplier data (name, address, telephone, etc.) Telephone number in case of emergency.
  2. Composition/information on ingredients: The chemical identity and the concentration or concentration ranges of all components that are hazardous according to GHS criteria and are present at levels above their cut-off values ​​or concentration limits.
  3. Hazard identification: GHS classification of the substance/mixture and any national or regional information, GHS label elements, including precautionary advice (The hazard symbols, as part of the pictograms, may be presented in the form of a graphic reproduction in black and white or through their written descriptions etc.). Other hazards that do not appear in the classification (for example, the danger of explosion of dust particles) or that are not covered by the GHS.
  4. First aid: Description of the necessary measures, broken down according to the different routes of exposure, that is, inhalation, skin and eye contact and ingestion. Most important symptoms/effects, acute and chronic Indication of the need to receive immediate medical attention and special treatment required if necessary.
  5. Fire-fighting measures: Adequate extinguishing media. Hazards specific to chemicals (eg nature of any hazardous fuels). Special protective equipment and special precautions for firefighting teams or brigades.
  6. Measures to be taken in the event of accidental spillage: Individual precautions, protective equipment and emergency procedures. Precautions for the environment. Adequate methods and absorbent materials for the control of losses and spills, including procedures for cleaning.
  7. Handling and storage: Safe handling technique,
  8. Exposure control / individual protection: Control parameters: occupational or biological exposure limits or limit values. Appropriate engineering controls. Individual protection measures, such as personal protection equipment. Maximum permissible concentrations. 
  9. Physical and chemical properties: Appearance (physical state, colour, etc.), Smell, Olfactory threshold, pH, Melting point/freezing point, Initial point and boiling range, Flashpoint, Evaporation rate, Flammability (solid/gas), Upper/lower limit of flammability or possible explosion, Vapor pressure and density, Relative density, Solubility, Autoignition temperature, Decomposition temperature, Viscosity etc.
  10. Stability and reactivity: Reactivity, Chemical stability, Possibility of dangerous reactions, Conditions to avoid (for example, static electricity discharge, shock or vibration), Incompatible materials, and Hazardous decomposition products.
  11. Toxicological information: Concise but complete and understandable description of the various toxicological effects on health and the available data used to identify these effects, such as Information on the probable routes of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, contact with skin and eyes), Symptoms related to physical, chemical and toxicological characteristics, estimates). 
  12. Ecological information: Ecotoxicity (aquatic and terrestrial, when this information is available), Persistence and degradability, Bioaccumulative potential, Mobility in soil, and Other adverse effects.
  13. Information regarding product disposal: Description of the waste and information on how to handle it safely and its disposal methods, including the disposal of contaminated containers.
  14. Transport information: UN Number (United Nations Organization), UN proper shipping name, Transport hazard class(es), Packing/container group, if applicable, Environmental hazards (for example Marine pollutant (Yes/No)), Special precautions that a user must know or adopt during transport or transfer within or outside their establishment; * International Agreement to Prevent Pollution from Ships, International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships for the Transport of Hazardous Chemicals in Bulk.
  15. Regulatory information: Specific provisions on safety, health and the environment for the product in question.
  16. Other information: such as advice regarding training, recommended uses, restrictions, supplier recommendations, written references, sources of the main data and date of issue and updating of the SDS.

Globally harmonized system of classification and labelling of chemicals definition

Safety data sheet definition
Safety data sheet definition

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemical Products (GHS) is a worldwide initiative to promote uniform criteria for the classification and labelling of chemical products. It will serve to define and communicate physical hazards for the health and environment that these involve, as well as the protection measures, on the labels and safety data sheets (SDS) in a logical and comprehensive manner.

Its main objective is to harmonize and standardize the classification of hazards and labelling of chemical products. 

Its specific objectives are:

  • Define and harmonize the physical, health and environmental hazards of chemicals (substances and mixtures);
  • Create classification processes that use available data on chemicals to compare them to defined criteria for their hazards, and
  • Convey information about hazards, as well as protective measures, on labels and safety data sheets.

The GHS does not include chemicals regulated through its own laws or regulations, these are:

  • Pharmaceutical products.
  • Food Additives.
  • Cosmetic items.
  • Pesticide residues in food.

Sectors targeted by the GHS include:

  • Professional users of chemical products (manufacturers, formulators, transporters, distributors, end users). 
  • General public (consumer products).
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