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HazMat Course Module 7


The cornerstone of effective workplace health and safety management is the availability and effective dissemination of adequate information on the substances and processes in use in the workplace. An SDS is a document written with the specific intention of supplying information that will allow a substance to be used safely. SDSs are recognised internationally as the most appropriate means of providing the information necessary for the safe use of products in the working environment.

SDSs provide information to persons handling the substance, e.g. in storage and transport. The information given on an SDS aids users of the substance to develop the correct occupational hygiene and safety procedures and to exercise a desired degree of care.

An SDS contains data regarding the properties of a particular substance. It is intended to provide workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner, and includes information such as physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point, etc.), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill handling procedures. The exact format of an SDS can vary from source to source within a country depending on how specific is the national requirement.

SDSs are a widely used system for cataloging information on chemicals, chemical compounds, and chemical mixtures. SDS information may include instructions for the safe use and potential hazards associated with a particular material or product. SDSs can be found anywhere chemicals are being used.

An SDS for a substance is not primarily intended for use by the general consumer, focusing instead on the hazards of working with the material in an occupational setting. For example, an SDS for a cleaning solution is not highly pertinent to someone who uses a can of the cleaner once a year, but is extremely important to someone who does this in a confined space for 40 hours a week.

In some jurisdictions, the SDS is required to state the chemical's risks, safety and impact on the environment.

It is important to use an SDS that is both country-specific and supplier-specific as the same product (e.g. paints sold under identical brand names by the same company) can have very different formulations in different countries; a product using a generic name (e.g. sugar soap) can also have a formulation and degree of hazard which varies between different manufacturers in the same country.

Annexe 4 of the UN GHS contains guidance for the preparation of an SDS.

SDS format

The information in the SDS should be presented using the following 16 headings in the order given below:

1. Identification
2. Hazard identification
3. Composition/information on ingredients
4. First-aid measures
5. Fire-fighting measures
6. Accidental release measures
7. Handling and storage
8. Exposure controls/personal protection
9. Physical and chemical properties
10. Stability and reactivity
11. Toxicological information
12. Ecological information
13. Disposal considerations
14. Transport information
15. Regulatory information
16. Other information

The website: is a useful site and contains links to many useful sources of SDS information.

Another useful site is:

The International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSCs) offer essential health and safety information on chemicals to promote their safe use. They are intended to be used at the “shop floor” level by workers and employers in factories, agriculture, construction and other places of work, being particularly useful in less developed areas and in small and medium size enterprises. They are also designed to be part of education and training activities.

The Cards consist of a series of standard sentences summarizing health and safety information collected, verified and peer reviewed by internationally recognized scientists. The Cards have not legal status and may not reflect in all cases the detailed requirements included in national legislation.

The ICSCs provide information on the intrinsic hazards of specific chemicals together with first aid and fire-fighting measures, and information about precautions for spillage, disposal, storage, packaging, labelling and transport.

The ICSCs project is an undertaking of the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS).

The Cards have no legal status and may not reflect in all cases the detailed requirements included in national legislation.

A fundamental feature of the ICSCs is that they are peer reviewed by a group of scientists. This is considered to be a significant asset of the Cards versus other packages of information on chemicals.

ICSCs are originally prepared (written and revised) in English and placed on the Web. Subsequently, national institutions translate the Cards from English into different languages.

ICSCs are available on the World Wide Web in different languages.


Prepare an SDS using the UN GHS format for sodium ethyl xanthate (The primary use of xanthates of the alkali metals, sodium and potassium, is as mineral collectors used for the recovery of metal sulphides from ore slurries. Sodium methyl xanthate was also used as a defoliant, herbicide and as an additive in rubber to protect against atmospheric gases, especially oxygen and ozone). Search the internet to obtain basic information to prepare the SDS.

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