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Why safety data sheets are important!

  • Sam Stretton
  • News

Safety Data Sheets

More and more materials that you work with are potentially hazardous and should be treated with care. Placing substances onto the marketplace which fall within the scope of Dangerous Goods substances, REACH or the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) system or the classification, labelling and packaging regulations requires the seller to provide written information of the hazards and the risks of the substances. This document is called a safety data sheet (SDS) or a material safety data sheet (MSDS).

Safety data sheets are important documents in the safe supply handling and use of chemicals, they help ensure that those who use the chemicals in the workplace use them safely without risk or harm to users or the environment.

The SDS will contain the information necessary to allow employers to conduct risk assessments as required by the control of substances hazard to health regulations (COSHH).

In general, if your business uses hazardous chemicals (as opposed to manufacturing or importing them for sale to others) you should be able to obtain a MSDS from the manufacturer, so that you can post it in the workplace and keep it in your records.

SDS are a must if the chemical is hazardous and is being supplied for use at work whether in packages or not. SDS are also needed if your chemical is not classified as hazardous but contains small amounts of a hazardous substance.

A safety data sheet is a 16-part document that covers:

  • identification of the substance preparation and the name of the company manufacturing
  • the hazard identification for global harmonised system
  • the composition of the substance
  • first aid measurements with symptoms and actions that need to be taken.
  • fire-fighting measures
  • accidental release measures
  • handling and storage requirements
  • exposure controls and personal protection requirements
  • physical and chemical properties
  • stability and reactivity of the product
  • toxicology information
  • ecological information
  • disposal considerations for disposing of the product safely
  • transport information
  • regulatory information
  • and any other information in respect of the substance being shipped.

Communicating to others about the classification

Labels can help you identify the more hazardous chemicals and tell you what the hazards are and how to avoid them.

A hazard label is made up of specific symbols known as pictograms. These pictograms and the wording that supports them are set out in law and chemical suppliers must use them where hazardous properties have been identified.

ECHA’s Guidance on labelling and packaging is still helpful in explaining the requirements in CLP.

Guidance on Labelling and Packaging 


Information for Dangerous Goods Shipping

If you are selling a product that is hazardous you should supply your buyer with a safety data sheet. Safety data sheets are used to identify chemicals and substances that are hazardous for transport.

The key area of a safety data sheet for transportation is Section 14, which details

  • the United nations UN number
  • the proper shipping name
  • the packing group of the substance or article.

As well as any conditions for transporting under Air, Road, Sea or Rail.

If your SDS has information in section 14 you must comply with the ICAO, IMDG or ADR Dangerous Goods Regulations when transporting those substances or articles and employees must hold a current certification in the regulations.

Many freight companies will ask for copies of your safety data sheet as part of their due diligence for shipping the goods.


Reviewing safety data sheets

Safety data sheets should be reviewed on a regular basis in line with the publication of the United Nations model regulations. The regulations are reviewed every two years and substances may be added to the list of articles that are deemed to be dangerous for transportation. Some articles or substances that have previously been deemed as non-hazardous may have changed status due to incidents and accidents during transport.

So, it is therefore vital that you always have a current edition of the safety data sheet for the articles that you are transporting to ensure compliance with the dangerous goods regulations.


If you would like more information regarding safety data sheets or need support transporting articles or substances that are classed as dangerous for transportation, contact the team at Logicom Hub.

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Our aim is to provide interactive training that builds confidence in new skills and knowledge in all attendees. We support businesses to stay in front of the regulations as the world of logistics and dangerous goods changes and ensure compliance is the key to controlled and effective supply chains. 


  • IATA Dangerous Goods by Air Certified
  • Technical Instructor – Civil Aviation Authority
  • Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (Dgsa)
  • IATA Radioactive by Air Certified
  • IMDG by Sea Certified
  • Certified on the carriage of goods by Road (ADR)
  • Studied Kirkpatrick Evaluations
  • Criteria Referenced Instruction – Chicago
  • The Art of Facilitation
  • Leadership Platform – Jim Hessler & Steve Motenko

Contact Us on Free Phone Number 0330 912 5041

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