Safety Data Sheet Explained:

Chemicals are used in a wide range of workplaces, from industrial manufacturing plants to small auto shops. Ensuring safety in handling hazardous chemicals is paramount to protect both the environment and people. HazChem Environmental has over 30 years of experience in providing customers guidance in the safety handling, storage and transportation of chemicals. What does SDS stand for ? It is a Safety Data Sheet. When dealing with chemicals, it is crucial to be well-versed in their characteristics, conducting regular reviews and updating your company’s Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

What Information does an SDS Contain ?

What information does an SDS contain? An SDS is a documented resource detailing information and protocols for safe chemical handling. Previously known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), the United States transitioned to SDS in 2012. While not drastically different, SDS offers consistent and internationally standardized data presentation, facilitating quick access to pertinent information. Presently, SDS documents encompass data on physical and chemical properties, potential hazards, protective measures, storage and transportation guidelines, emergency procedures for spillage or accidental exposure, disposal recommendations, and manufacturer contact details.

SDS Globally Harmonized System

An SDS adheres to the Globally Harmonized System of Chemical Classification and Labeling. It is structured using a template comprising 16 sections, a framework established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enforce and guarantee compliance with Hazard Communication Standards.

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

    • 1.1. Product identifier
    • 1.2. Relevant identified uses of the substance or mixture and uses advised against
    • 1.3. Details of the supplier of the safety data sheet
    • 1.4. Emergency telephone number

SECTION 2: Hazards identification

    • 2.1. Classification of the substance or mixture
    • 2.2. Label elements
    • 2.3. Other hazards

SECTION 3: Composition/information on ingredients

    • 3.1. Substances
    • 3.2. Mixtures

SECTION 4: First aid measures

    • 4.1. Description of first aid measures
    • 4.2. Most important symptoms and effects, both acute and delayed
    • 4.3. Indication of any immediate medical attention and special treatment needed

SECTION 5: Firefighting measures

    • 5.1. Extinguishing media
    • 5.2. Special hazards arising from the substance or mixture
    • 5.3. Advice for firefighters

SECTION 6: Accidental release measure

    • 6.1. Personal precautions, protective equipment, and emergency procedures
    • 6.2. Environmental precautions
    • 6.3. Methods and material for containment and cleaning up
    • 6.4. Reference to other sections

SECTION 7: Handling and storage

    • 7.1. Precautions for safe handling
    • 7.2. Conditions for safe storage, including any incompatibilities
    • 7.3. Specific end use(s)

SECTION 8: Exposure controls/personal protection

    • 8.1. Control parameters
    • 8.2. Exposure controls

SECTION 9: Physical and chemical properties

    • 9.1. Information on basic physical and chemical properties
    • 9.2. Other information

SECTION 10: Stability and reactivity

    • 10.1. Reactivity
    • 10.2. Chemical stability
    • 10.3. Possibility of hazardous reactions
    • 10.4. Conditions to avoid
    • 10.5. Incompatible materials
    • 10.6. Hazardous decomposition products

SECTION 11: Toxicological information

    • 11.1. Information on toxicological effects

SECTION 12: Ecological information

    • 12.1. Toxicity
    • 12.2. Persistence and degradability
    • 12.3. Bioaccumulative potential
    • 12.4. Mobility in soil
    • 12.5. Results of PBT and vPvB assessment
    • 12.6. Other adverse effects

SECTION 13: Disposal considerations

    • 13.1. Waste treatment methods

SECTION 14: Transport information

    • 14.1. UN number
    • 14.2. UN proper shipping name
    • 14.3. Transport hazard class(es)
    • 14.4. Packing group
    • 14.5. Environmental hazards
    • 14.6. Special precautions for user
    • 14.7. Transport in bulk according to Annex II of MARPOL73/78 and the IBC Code

SECTION 15: Regulatory information

    • 15.1. Safety, health, and environmental regulations/legislation specific for the substance or mixture
    • 15.2. Chemical safety assessment

SECTION 16: Other information

    • 16.2. Date of the latest revision of the SDS


Every company bears a responsibility regarding its Safety Data Sheets (SDS). It’s not only mandatory to grant employees access to these documents but also to continuously update them to ensure their accuracy. While initially procured from the manufacturer, the onus of maintaining these documents falls on the company itself.


Your company must guarantee that all Safety Data Sheets for hazardous chemicals at your facility are easily accessible to your team. Typically, SDSs are stored in a distinctive yellow binder placed in a central location within your facility. Alternatively, some opt to maintain all SDSs electronically on a computer. Both approaches are acceptable, although the latter may require a backup plan in case of power outages or emergencies. Depending on your site layout, certain facilities may benefit from having multiple binders or access points.


An effective collection of Safety Data Sheets is one that remains current and specific to the hazardous materials on-site. Over time, the products or chemicals used in your facility may change. Changes such as:

  • Transitioning from one product to another (e.g., switching from a non-hazardous degreaser to a corrosive degreaser).
  • Alterations in product ingredients by the manufacturer.
  • New significant findings regarding substances.

In addition, any new chemicals introduced into the workplace should have their own SDS added to your company’s database, while any chemicals no longer in use must be removed. Designate one individual or a small team within your company to oversee and maintain all SDS records. Additionally, SDSs must be accessible to local fire departments, local emergency planning officials, and state planning officials.


To enhance the safety of your team and mitigate liability, employees should be well-informed about the hazardous materials present at the facility and trained to handle them. Although not all sections of the Safety Data Sheet may apply to everyone, your team should become familiar with the SDS format. This familiarity will enable them to swiftly locate relevant sections related to their work, particularly when a new type of hazardous material is introduced. Communicating the presence of a new hazardous material is crucial for educating workers and reducing workplace risks.

Where to Obtain Safety Data Sheets:

When purchasing a hazardous chemical, the supplier should provide SDS information. This information is often available online rather than in print. Companies that supply hazardous chemicals typically utilize services that create and update data sheets. If you lack an SDS for a particular chemical, you can search for it online. The University of California hosts the SDS Google Search and searching by the Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number  (CAS number) is the most effective method. CAS numbers are internationally recognized unique identifiers defined by the American Chemical Society. However, be aware that some formulations are mixtures, and their hazard information may not align with that of individual components.

If you have any questions, please call our HazChem experts to discuss your concerns. We are here to help you stay safe and compliant while protecting the environment.

About HazChem Environmental Corp:

HazChem Environmental provides hazardous waste clean-up, transportation, and disposal services; mercury spill cleanups; wastewater treatment services; 24/7/365 emergency spill cleanups, safety training, and many more environmental services. For over 30 years, HazChem has provided these services to industrial, corporate, education, government, medical, and other industries. View our page on Chemical Spill clean up if you would like to learn more.





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