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5. Chemical safety data sheets

5.1 General

5.1.1. The competent authority, or a body approved or recognised by the competent authority, should establish criteria for the preparation of chemical safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals (see paragraph 2.1.8 (d) (criteria for data sheets)). Essential information should be included (see section 5.3 (Content)). Existing criteria for preparing chemical safety data sheets (also called ;'material safety data sheets" or "safety data sheets" in some countries) established by other competent authorities or internationally recognised institutions may be followed, where they are consistent with the provisions of this paragraph. This practice is encouraged where it may promote uniformity of approach.

5.1.2. Suppliers should ensure that chemical safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals are prepared, and are provided to employers as well as any revisions thereof (see 2.4.6 (provision of data sheets)).

5.1.3. Workers and their representatives should have a right to chemical safety data sheets and to receive information on them in forms or languages they easily understand. Some of the information required in chemical safety data sheets might be intended for specialists, and further clarification may be needed from the employer.

5.2 Provision of information

5.2.1. The supplier should provide an employer with essential information about hazardous chemicals in the form of a chemical safety data sheet. The information should be given in the official language of the country in which the employer is located or in another language, agreed to in writing by the employer.

5.2.2. On the basis of the information in the chemical safety data sheet, employers should check whether any national laws, standards or practices apply to the chemical supplied, and should ensure compliance. Employers should add to the information provided by the supplier, information of importance to their enterprise.

5.2.3. Employers should not use any hazardous chemicals until they have obtained the appropriate information referred to in paragraph 5.3.2 (information in the data sheets) and have given this information to the workers in a form and language that they can easily understand. Verbal information may be appropriate in straightforward cases, but further training will often be required, supported by written instructions on methods of work, precautionary measures and action to be taken in the event of an emergency.

5.2.4. Employers should make chemical safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals available to workers and their representatives.

5.3 Content

5.3.1. Chemical safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals should give information about the identity of the chemical. its supplier, classification, hazards, safety precautions and the relevant emergency procedures.

5.3.2. The information to be included should be that established by the competent authority for the area in which the employer' s premises are located, or by a body approved or recognised by that competent authority. Details of the type of information that should be required are given below.

(a) Chemical product and company identification
The name should be the same as that used on the label of the hazardous chemical, which may be the conventional chemical name or a commonly used trade name. Additional names may be used if these help identification. The full name, address and telephone number of the supplier should be included. An emergency telephone number should also be given, for contact in the event of an emergency. This number may be that of the company itself or of a recognised advisory body, so long as either can be contacted at all times.
(b) Information on ingredients (composition)
The information should allow employers to identify clearly the risks associated with a particular chemical so that they may conduct a risk assessment, as outlined in section 6.2 (Procedures for assessment) of this code. Full details of the composition should normally be given but may not be necessary if the risks can be properly assessed. The following should be provided except where the name or concentration of an ingredient in a mixture is confidential information which can be omitted in accordance with section 2.6:
  1. a description of the main components, including their chemical nature;
  2. the identity and concentrations of components which are hazardous to safety and health;
  3. the identity and maximum concentration to be found of components which are at the concentration or exceed the concentration at which they are classified as hazardous to safety and health in lists approved or recognised by the competent authority, or which are prohibited at higher concentrations by the competent authority.
(c) Hazard identification
The most important hazards, including the most significant health, physical and environmental hazards, should be stated, clearly and briefly, as an emergency overview. The information should be compatible with that shown on the label.
(d) First-aid measures
First-aid and self-help measures should be carefully explained. Situations where immediate medical attention is required should be described and the necessary measures indicated. Where appropriate, the need for special arrangements for specific and immediate treatment should be emphasised.
(e) Fire-fighting measures
The requirements for fighting a fire involving a chemical should be included, e.g.:
  1. suitable extinguishing agents;
  2. extinguishing agents which must not be used for safety reasons;
  3. special protective equipment for fire-fighters.
Information should also be given on the properties of the chemical in the event of fire and on special exposure hazards as a result of combustion products, as well as the precautions to be taken.
(f) Accidental release measures
Information should be provided on the action to be taken in the event of an accidental release of the chemical. The information should include:
  1. health and safety precautions: removal of sources of ignition, provision of sufficient
  2. ventilation, provision of suitable personal protective equipment;
  3. environmental precautions: keeping away from drains, need to alert the emergency services, and possible need to alert the immediate neighbourhood in the event of an imminent risk;
  4. methods for making safe and cleaning up: use of suitable absorbent materials, avoiding production of gases/fumes by water or other diluent, use of suitable neutralising agents;
  5. warnings: advise against reasonably foreseeable hazardous actions.
(g) Handling and storage
Information should be given about conditions recommended by the supplier for safe storage and handling, including:
  1. design and location of storage rooms or vessels;
  2. separation from workplaces and occupied buildings;
  3. incompatible materials;
  4. conditions of storage, e.g. temperature and humidity, avoidance of sunlight;
  5. avoidance of sources of ignition, including particular arrangements to avoid static build-up;
  6. provision of local and general ventilation;
  7. recommended methods of work and those to be avoided.
(h) Exposure controls and personal protection
Information should be given on the need for personal protective equipment during use of a chemical, and on the type of equipment that provides adequate and suitable protection. Where appropriate, a reminder should be given that the primary controls should be provided by the design and installation of any equipment used and by other engineering measures, and information provided on useful practices to minimise exposure of workers. Specific control parameters such as exposure limits or biological standards should be given, along with recommended monitoring procedures.
(i) Physical and chemical properties
A brief description should be given of the appearance of the chemical, whether it is a solid, liquid or gas and its colour and odour. Certain characteristics and properties, if known, should be given, specifying the nature of the test to determine these in each case. The tests used should be in accordance with the national laws and criteria applying at the employer's workplace and, in the absence of national laws or criteria, the test criteria of the exporting country should be used as guidance. The extent of the information provided should be appropriate to the use of the chemical. Examples of other useful data include:
  • viscosity;
  • freezing point/freezing range;
  • boiling point/boiling range;
  • melting point/melting range;
  • flashpoint;
  • auto-ignition temperature;
  • explosive properties;
  • oxidising properties;
  • vapour pressure;
  • molecular weight;
  • specific gravity or density;
  • pH;
  • solubility;
  • partition coefficient (water/n-octane);
  • parameters such as vapour density, miscibility, evaporation rate and conductivity.
(j) Stability and reactivity
The possibility of hazardous reactions under certain conditions should be stated. Conditions to avoid should be indicated, such as:
  1. physical conditions, e.g. temperature, pressure, light, shock, contact with moisture or air;
  2. proximity to other chemicals, e.g. acids, bases, oxidising agents or any other specific substance which may cause a dangerous reaction.
Where hazardous decomposition products are given off, these should be specified along with the necessary precautions.
(k) Toxicological information
This section should give information on the effects on the body and on potential routes of entry into the body. Reference should be made to acute effects, both immediate and delayed, and to chronic effects from both short- and long-term exposure. Reference should also be made to health hazards as a result of possible reaction with other chemicals including any known interactions, for example, resulting from the use of medication, tobacco and alcohol.
(I) Ecological information
The most important characteristics likely to have an effect on the environment should be described. The detailed information required will depend on the national laws and practice applying at the employer's workplace. Typical information that should be given, where appropriate, includes the potential routes for release of the chemical which are of concern, its persistence and degradability, bioaccumulative potential and aquatic toxicity, and other data relating to ecotoxicity, e.g. effects on water treatment works.
(m) Disposal considerations
Safe methods of disposal of the chemical and of contaminated packaging, which may contain residues of hazardous chemicals, should be given. Employers should be reminded that there may be national laws and practices on the subject.
(n) Transport information
Information should be given on special precautions that employers should be aware of or take while transporting the chemical on or off their premises. Relevant information given in the United Nations Recommendations on the transport of dangerous goods and in other international agreements may also be included.
(o) Regulatory information
Information required for the marking and labelling of the chemical should be given here. Specific national regulations or practices applying to the user should be referred to. Employers should be reminded to refer to the requirements of national laws and practices.
(p) Other information
Other information which may be important to workers' health and safety should be included. Examples are training advice, recommended uses and restrictions, references, and sources of key data for compiling the chemical safety data sheet, the technical contact point and date of issue of the sheet.

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Updated by AS. Approved by EC. Last update: 30.11.2004.