When a manufacturer, supplier or importer of chemicals or other hazardous products supplies these goods to an employer, they must also provide a chemical safety data sheet. This document is specific to its product and details its formulation, how the product should be used, how people who use it can avoid harm, and how to prescribe treatment in the event of a chemical related workplace accident. However, despite seemingly clear legislation, many businesses and organisations consider Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for hazardous chemicals to be a compliance nightmare, and as a result they often become a very common area of non-compliance.

Many safety data sheets for chemicals (formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets) are often not prepared by the manufacturer, importer or the supplier but rather by companies that produce generic or ‘third party’ safety data sheets and make them available for purchase online. These generic documents may look similar to a manufacturer’s SDS but are often no more than computer-generated phrases produced from an incomplete list of ingredients harvested from an authentic chemical safety data sheet. Third party safety data sheets should only ever be considered as a secondary source of information about a chemical or hazardous substance at best. They cannot be relied upon as primary sources of information for a couple of reasons.

The danger of relying on third party safety data sheets for chemicals

The major issues with relying on third party / generic safety data sheets is that you cannot trust them to contain the most up to date information about a chemical or hazardous product. Changes to the formulation of the chemical may not be reflected by way of an updated MSDS, which could be problematic if an employee is exposed to a chemical and requires immediate treatment. That treatment would be determined by the details in the safety data sheet, and if those details are out of date and therefore incorrect, it could have grave consequences for the exposed employee.

Secondly, employers and business managers might be under the impression that a generic safety data sheet for chemicals is sufficient for their compliance duties around workplace health and safety. However the states and territories have different rulings around these documents. In Victoria for example, a generic MSDS cannot be considered to be the manufacturer or importer’s document. If an employer uses a third party chemical safety data sheet as their primary legal document, it could leave them highly vulnerable to legal liability should an unforeseen workplace incident occur.

Comprehensive, legal safety data sheets transcribed by Chemical Safety International

Ensure you remain compliant and uphold your responsibilities as a manufacturer or supplier of chemicals with a fully detailed and comprehensive safety data sheet transcribed by Chemical Safety International. Whereas other companies produce generic documents that have been generated by SDS software because they don’t have time to produce a tailored document, we will take the time to produce evidence and knowledge based chemical safety data sheets that will maximise your business’ likelihood of optimal workplace safety.

If you believe there is confusion or a lack of clarity surrounding Safety Data Sheets for hazardous chemicals in your workplace, contact Chemical Safety International for more information.