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Is the Safety Data Sheet Just a Burden for Chemical Suppliers or an Essential Communication Tool?

If you are manufacturers, importers, and distributors of chemicals, then there's a high probability that you perceive the safety data sheet (SDS) as an unnecessary and redundant burden.

On the other hand, if you are among the users of chemicals who receive the SDS upon delivery, then it's likely that you store it somewhere among those “useless” documents.

Do I see a nod here?

Before we go any further – who do you think is responsible for the SDS? Is it manufaturer or supplier? You can find the answer here.

Now, back to SDS. Today, I would like to share with you some insights that will help you see and understand the SDS in a different light.

Let's start with the most important point – the SDS IS the "identity card" of each hazardous chemical. I know this statement sounds ambitious, but it's true. That's because SDS is the basic document for every chemical.

The SDS represents the primary communication tool through which the chemical is presented to the user. It contains all the essential information about the chemical, such as:

  • Usage instructions,
  • Classification and labeling based on hazard type,
  • Composition,
  • First aid measures,
  • Actions to take in case of fire or spill,
  • Information about personal protective equipment,
  • Recommendations for handling and storage,
  • Data on disposal, transport, etc.

The content and format of the SDS and the communication in the supply chain in the EU are defined by Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 (REACH). We have also discussed the instances in which it is necessary to create and provide an SDS.

What should you remember?

If you are a supplier of a chemical classified as hazardous, then you must provide the recipient with an appropriate SDS free of charge.

Now, let’s look at three cases where you do NOT need to create an SDS.

The legislation first stipulates that you do not need to create an SDS for chemicals placed on the market in their final form as:

  • Medicines and medical devices used in human and veterinary medicine,
  • Cosmetic products,
  • Food and feed, food and feed additives, flavors, and feed additives.

Secondly, you do not need to create an SDS if the chemicals are intended for general use and if appropriate information is provided to users otherwise (on the label). This should suffice for the correct and safe use of the chemical, as well as for taking appropriate protective measures.

Finally, a special rule applies to mixtures that are not classified as hazardous but contain hazardous substances. In this case, you are obliged to provide the SDS to professional users upon their request.

Now that we have clarified when it is necessary to provide an SDS, it remains to look at the purpose of providing SDSs throughout the supply chain.

SDSs are primarily intended for companies that store, use, or transport chemicals. Companies use them as a source of information about the hazardous properties of chemicals, including environmental hazards, and to obtain instructions on safety measures.

From the above, it follows that the SDS is the basis for determining work procedures, planning preventive measures, responding in case of accidents, and planning appropriate safety measures at work.

It is very important that the information on the chemical labels is consistent with the elements of the label specified in section 2.2 of the corresponding SDS. This is especially important if the chemicals are intended for general use. Hazard labeling must be consistent in all chemical documents: SDSs and labels.

If you have already encountered SDSs, then you know that an SDS can be an extensive document.

You may be concerned about the volume and size of documents that need to be delivered to customers. You might not know where to store SDSs for all the chemicals you use so that you can quickly and easily find them when needed.

There is a simple and proven solution: as a chemical supplier, you can provide the recipient with the SDS in electronic form (by delivering a file or a direct link to the file).

This means that you no longer need printed versions of the documents. This applies if you can provide access to the electronic version of the document to each of your recipients or any person handling the chemical.

Don't worry. This is not something new. It is actually in line with sustainability standards, the general trend of business digitalization, and the anticipated introduction of digital passports for products.

Information systems, such as our Chemius, allow you to easily exchange documents (data) with all interested parties. You don't have to worry about the latest versions of the documents. Anyone with access to SDSs in Chemius has access to the latest version of the documents, as well as all previous versions.

Chemius allows you to always have up-to-date documentation in one place and track all changes. Document traceability is very important, especially if you have different product batches on the market that may be accompanied by different labels.

If you want to check out the possibilities offered by Chemius, contact me at

Author of the original photo Kindel Media portal Pexels

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 | July 1, 2024

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