What is a Safety Data Sheet?

Dangerous goods (DG) are solids, liquids, or gases which are very harmful to people, other organisms, property or the environment. When not properly handled, these goods could spell a huge disaster to human life and economy. Due to their perilous nature, it is of dire importance that their handling and packaging be thoroughly scrutinized in order to safely move them from one place to another for effective and efficient DG shipping. One good starting point in achieving this goal is by studying the Safety Data Sheet that comes together with the dangerous goods.

Safety Data Sheet (SDS) which is also known as material safety data sheet (MSDS) or product safety data sheet (PSDS) is a document or series of documents that enumerate all the necessary information relating to occupational safety and health for the use of various substances and products particularly the hazardous kinds. It is required to be accomplished and furnished by the concerned chemical manufacturers, distributors, or importers for the benefit of the downstream users such as the shippers and ultimately the general consumers for the DG shipping process.

SDSs find special significance in industries which are primarily engaged in the business of dangerous goods shipping because the said documents enable the aforesaid business entities to properly handle, classify, package, mark, and label any hazardous material which are to be transported or delivered.

In accordance with the standard specifications as expressly laid out by the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), the SDSs must list down all the pertinent details of the dangerous goods in question to be arranged in a 16-section format. The GHS is the international standard which governs dangerous goods found and dealt with in the workplace. By making the SDSs user-friendly, any person would get served with the necessary and helpful information that he or she would need in relation to the dangerous goods in the most efficient way and time possible.

The 16 sections are as follows:

SECTION 1: Identification of the substance/mixture and of the company/undertaking

SECTION 2: Hazards identification

SECTION 3: Composition/information on ingredients

SECTION 4: First aid measures

SECTION 5: Firefighting measures

SECTION 6: Accidental release measure

SECTION 7: Handling and storage

SECTION 8: Exposure controls/personal protection

SECTION 9: Physical and chemical properties

SECTION 10: Stability and reactivity

SECTION 11: Toxicological information

SECTION 12: Ecological information

SECTION 13: Disposal considerations

SECTION 14: Transport information

SECTION 15: Regulatory information

SECTION 16: Other information

Aside from the foregoing, it is required that the SDSs containing the above mentioned information must write or translate the same using the English language. It is also important that a copy of the SDS must be made readily accessible to any person who comes in contact with the hazardous goods before, during, and even after its shipment. Further, the SDS must be kept current and checked for the correct dangerous goods to be shipped.

Complying with strict regulations that govern dangerous goods shipments is crucial for a safe and successful transport of hazardous cargo. Hence, it is important to meet the requirements of a well-documented SDS.


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