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Safety Data Sheet Search

SDS Overview

What is a Safety Data Sheet?

A safety data sheet, or SDS, is a standardized document that contains occupational safety and health data. The International Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) mandates that chemical manufacturers must communicate a chemical’s hazard information to chemical handlers by providing a Safety Data Sheet. SDS's typically contain chemical properties, health and environmental hazards, protective measures, as well as safety precautions for storing, handling, and transporting chemicals.

Globally Harmonized System

GHS is a set of international guidelines that were developed by the United Nations. These guidelines were created to ensure the safe manufacturing, handling, use, disposal, and transport of hazardous materials. The GHS system is used to:

  • Classify chemical data and hazard criteria.
  • Identify a chemical's health, physical, and environmental hazards.
  • Provide chemical manufacturers and distributors with a well-defined system to communicate a chemical's hazard information and protective measures.

SDS Structure and Format

Safety data sheets have sixteen sections. The early sections, one through eight, focus on quick access to essential information that might be required by chemical handlers for safe handling practices or by emergency response personnel. Sections nine through eleven contain technical and scientific data, e.g., stability, reactivity, physical & chemical properties. Sections twelve through fifteen are not mandatory; however, they are required to be fully GHS compliant. The last section, section sixteen, contains information about the SDS itself, e.g., the revision date and changes since the last version.

SDS Information for Employers

Employers must ensure that employees have access to safety data sheets for all of the hazardous chemicals they handle. Employers may fulfill this requirement in a variety of ways. For example, SDS binders are quite common as are computer-based SDS databases. What’s important is that employees have access to the safety data sheets for all of the chemicals that they are using. If the employer does not have an SDS for one of these chemicals they should contact the manufacturer to obtain the current version of the SDS for that chemical. In this sense, the online SDS databases have a clear advantage over binder-based systems since the database vendor usually takes care of indexing and updating the safety data sheets.

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Chemical Safety is the developer of Environmental Management Systems (EMS), the original and most comprehensive EHS software.

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