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Safety Data Sheet

A safety data sheet is required wherever hazardous substances are handled following the Ordinance on Hazardous Substances.

What Is a Safety Data Sheet?

The Safety Data Sheet (SDS), also called Material Data Sheet (MDS), is a required document for all companies that purchase, supply or use hazardous substances in their operations. The datasheet contains safety-related information about the substance or mixture.

It provides the professional user of the hazardous substance with information about the properties of the product, the potential hazards, and advice on safe handling and prevention, as well as on what to do in the event of a hazard. With the help of the safety data sheet, necessary measures for health protection, safety in the workplace and protection of the environment should be taken.

Hazardous substances are substances that have a chemical hazard potential. Such substances include chemicals such as acetone, methanol and hydrochloric acid. Within the framework of the Ordinance on Hazardous Substances, such substances must be specially labeled and documented.

When Must a Safety Data Sheet Be Prepared?

On June 1, 2007, the European Union’s REACH Regulation came into force. REACH stands for “Regitsration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals.” Basically, the EU regulation applies to all chemical substances found in industrial processes and in everyday life.

Under the REACH regulation, all companies are required to identify and manage the risks associated with the substances they manufacture and place on the market in the EU. Specifically, for suppliers of hazardous substances, this means that they must prepare a safety data sheet at the time of first delivery if a substance they provide is classified as hazardous under CLP Regulation (EC) No. 1272.

The document must be technically correct, fully completed and regularly updated. For ECHA (European Chemicals Agency), the safety data sheet must indicate the extent to which the substance can be used safely and provide risk management information to the user. If the risks cannot be managed, the use can be restricted by the authorities in various ways. In the long term, the substance should be replaced with one that is less hazardous.

Who Is Allowed to Prepare a Safety Data Sheet?

The REACH regulation states that a safety data sheet may only be prepared by skilled persons. This expertise must be obtained through appropriate training. Which knowledge is necessary is described in the guidelines for the preparation of safety data sheets.

The safety data sheet must always be available in the official language of the member state. Accordingly, a user in Germany is entitled to a German safety data sheet; if hazardous substances are supplied to Spain, a Spanish safety data sheet must be prepared.

What Must Be Included in a Safety Data Sheet?

According to Article 31, paragraph 6 of the REACH Regulation, a safety data sheet must contain 16 sections and the subsections referred to them. The sections include the following information:

Section 1: Identification of the substance or mixture and of the company

Section 2: Potential hazards

Section 3: Composition and information on ingredients

Section 4: First aid measures

Section 5: Fire-fighting measures

Section 6: Accidental release measures

Section 7: Handling and storage

Section 8: Exposure controls/personal protective equipment

Section 9: Physical and chemical properties

Section 10: Stability and reactivity

Section 11: Toxicological information

Section 12: Environmental information

Section 13: Disposal information

Section 14: Transport information

Section 15: Legislation

Section 16: Other information

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