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True story on how these little pictograms on Safety Data Sheet stopped one company’s sales

Ever had a feeling somebody is just being too smart and too attention orientated when it comes to Safety Data Sheets? After all, who even has the time to look at them? 

Well, here’s a true story teaching you a lot about how one small detail on a Safety Data Sheet crippled a company’s sales process, causing them to lose time and affecting that long earned reputation being suffered.    

The company got in contact with us when their client refused to accept their product. The reason? Customer questioned Safety Data Sheet and pictograms on them. 

Here's the first email to us: 

“Our customer has just created a request regarding our datasheet, which I cannot respond to. I need info on this as soon as possible please. They refuse to sell our product until they understand the reasons for the pictogram’s changes on latest SDS.

“As far as I know, the SDS of this product must only have this one danger sign on it:

True story on how these little pictograms on Safety Data Sheet stopped one company’s sales

 “Why is there also a danger sign on SDS, which indicates that it is harmful to health, also on it?

True story on how these little pictograms on Safety Data Sheet stopped one company’s sales

 “Could you help us find out and provide a proper explanations to why there are two of these danger signs on SDS? 

We then asked them to provide us with the old original SDS for this product. That would help us compare both SDSs and provide our opinion on why there were two instead of just one pictogram.

Their client thought this company had more pictograms than are needed and was afraid the product wouldn’t sell.

Unfortunately, when it comes to chemical documentation management, this company asking for our help is like many others. 

They’re having their SDSs saved somewhere by someone in the company but not knowing where or which the latest original SDS is. So, this was a dead end.   

Instead, they told us what’s inside this product and that only the latest original SDS is available (which they send to us). Here's the email: 

»Unfortunately I can not find an old original SDS. 

True story on how these little pictograms on Safety Data Sheet stopped one company’s sales

»We just have the actual ones. I just now that for this ingredient: Diethylenglykol. And only one pictogram is provided here. Is this is OK and if not why not? 

So, we started working on what they gave us (new original SDS). Here’s what we came up with – my email to the client: 

“If you have only diethylene glycol with CAS 111-46-6 in your mixture, you have only one pictogram: 

True story on how these little pictograms on Safety Data Sheet stopped one company’s sales

But this answer didn’t make this company asking for our help satisfied. That is because we couldn’t explain (nor had the source to compare to) why there are two pictograms and not just one. 

Then we did a little more digging and what we came up with is this:

“In attachment you can find MSDS for your raw material. They classified diethylenglycol with H302 and H373. This is the reason for 2 pictograms:

True story on how these little pictograms on Safety Data Sheet stopped one company’s sales

The company then sent an email to their client and got rejected jet again. Here’s what their client wrote back: 

“After further research, I now have a safety data sheet for the substance "diethylene glycol" from our supplier on which, as already stated, only one danger sign (H302) is marked. 

“This is contradictory to what you claimed in the previous mail. Can you please comment on this?

Now the light came on. We knew what caused that difference and confusion to say the least. 

The company and their client were only comparing the old SDS from 2020 and new one from 2023. Instead, they should be looking into chemical legislation and changes applying to this classification. 

So, what is the right answer and explanation I hear you say? 

 In 2020 version of SDS this substance was still classified as H373 and you need to have it on SDS. 

But then legislation changed and in 2023 version of SDS the second symbol was left out. 

Unfortunately, not our client not their client didn’t have the knowledge to recognize this.  And this was causing all the confusion. 

Here’s also the official explanation in if you’re interested: 

»According to the latest data from the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency), the substance is only to be classified with H302. This also corresponds to the legally required minimum classification according to CLP-VO (Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008) for the classification, labeling and packaging of substances and mixtures.« 

Now our client is selling again and rebuilding its relationship with the customer. In time like this you realize how quickly your business can come to a stop because of one little detail. 

My three takeaways from this true story for you:

  • Focus on what you do best and make the best use of your time – outsource the rest.
  • Chemical legislation is rapidly changing and could have a dramatic impact on your business and reputation – don’t underestimate that.
  • Find an expert – not necessarily us – that will help you support your business on the chemical regulation side. 

Whant to make sure we’re the right partner for these things? Let’s talk. That won’t cost you a cent but could save you lots of trouble in the future.

Information on this blog is prepared with utmost care, but it is not about (chemical) consulting, and the provider does not assume any responsibility or liability for the correctness, accuracy and up-to-dateness of published content. If you need advice for a specific case, you can write to us at
SDS Other | May 16, 2023

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