What are the rules around Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s)?

May 2020

You may have heard of the five year rule around chemical safety data sheets, but what does it really mean?  Here we briefly explain what this involves for you as a user of hazardous chemicals.  You must get an SDS for all hazardous substances from the manufacturer or supplier when they supply a substance to you:

– for the very first time
– for the first time in the last five years
– for the first time after a change in the SDS

The SDS or a condensed version of its key information such as a product safety card must be readily accessible (i.e. easy to find) to workers and to emergency service workers who could be exposed to the substance at your workplace.  You don’t need an SDS for substances in transit, consumer products that you intend to supply or sell to other people and will not open in the workplace, or for consumer products that you use in your workplace as you would at home.

We believe the best place to get the relevant SDS from is your chemical suppliers website – all responsible suppliers will have these available on their product pages or in a resource section on the site and will keep them up to date as they change or are updated.

For a quick 101 on Safety Data Sheets, the compliant ones will consist of 16 sections.  Here’s a quick description of some of the most important sections so you can understand what they are telling you:

Section 1: Identification: This tells you the product and suppliers details along with emergency contact details
Section 2: Hazard identification: This tells you the hazards associated with the product for different aspects of it
Section 4: First aid measures: What to do if first aid associated with the product is necessary
Section 5: Fire-fighting measures: Fire fighting directions and advice should the product be involved in a fire
Section 6: Accidental release measures: If you notice the product leaking or spilt, follow these instructions
Section 7: Handling and storage: Advice on how to handle and store this chemical safely
Section 8: Exposure controls/personal protection: This is one of the most important sections telling you how to use the product safely to protect yourself and others around you
Section 11: Toxicological information: The likely symptoms you will notice if the product is mishandled or someone is over exposed to the product
Section 14: Transport information: The transport information you need if you are to ship the product anywhere

If your team uses hazardous cleaning chemicals anywhere as part of your standard operating procedures, we strongly recommend you get your chemical supplier to carry out specific health and safety training for these chemicals for the team members using them.  It’s a good idea to get the operators to sit a small test at the end of the training to ensure they have understood the training properly – they can then be issued with a completion certificate for their employee records.

If you would like more information around SDS’s and safe chemical handling, please click on this link to contact our team.