Preparing safety data sheets

You must prepare a safety data sheet (SDS) for every hazardous chemical you manufacture or import. There are some exceptions.  

Manufacturers and importers duties for safety data sheets 

If you manufacture or import hazardous chemicals, you must: 

  • prepare an SDS as soon as possible after you manufacture or import a hazardous chemical 

  • review each SDS at least once every 5 years 

  • keep SDS updated with correct and current information. 

People who work with hazardous chemicals use SDS to manage risks in the workplace

Chemicals that need safety data sheets 

You must prepare an SDS for each hazardous chemical you manufacture or import, unless it is exempt under the model Work Health and Safety Regulations. 

Non-hazardous chemicals do not need an SDS. If you decide to prepare an SDS for a non-hazardous chemical, you can add information like you would for a hazardous chemical. 

List of chemicals that don’t need safety data sheets 

These hazardous chemicals listed in the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations do not need an SDS: 

  • Chemicals in batteries while they are incorporated in plant. 

  • Fuel, oils or coolants in a container that is fitted to a vehicle, vessel or aircraft, mobile plant, appliance or other device, where the fuel, oils or coolants are intended for its operation. 

  • Fuel in the fuel container of a domestic or portable fuel burning appliance where the quantity of fuel does not exceed 25 kg or 25 L. 

  • Hazardous chemicals in portable fire-fighting or medical equipment for use at a workplace. 

  • Hazardous chemicals that form part of the integrated refrigeration system of refrigerated freight containers. 

  • Potable liquids that are consumer products at retail premises. 

  • Food and beverages within the meaning of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code that are in a package and form intended for human consumption. 

  • Therapeutic goods at the point of intentional intake by or administration to humans. 

  • Veterinary chemical products at the point of administration to animals. 

  • Tobacco or products made of tobacco. 

Information to include in safety data sheets 

Australia uses the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) to classify and label chemicals. The classification information will help you when developing the SDS. 

The SDS must include the chemical’s: 

  • hazards and how to handle it safely, including storage and disposal 

  • physical and chemical properties 

  • potential health and emergency response measures 

  • environmental effects. 

You must set the information out under certain headings: 

  • Section 1 – Identification: product identifier and chemical identity 

  • Section 2 – Hazard(s) identification 

  • Section 3 – Composition and information on ingredients 

  • Section 4 – First aid measures 

  • Section 5 – Firefighting measures 

  • Section 6 – Accidental release measures 

  • Section 7– Handling and storage, including how the chemical may be safely used 

  • Section 8 – Exposure controls and personal protection 

  • Section 9 – Physical and chemical properties 

  • Section 10 – Stability and reactivity 

  • Section 11 – Toxicological information 

  • Section 12 – Ecological information 

  • Section 13 – Disposal considerations 

  • Section 14 – Transport information 

  • Section 15 – Regulatory information 

  • Section 16 – Any other relevant information 

The model Code of Practice for the Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals tells you what to put in an SDS and includes a checklist. 

Safety data sheets can be paper or electronic 

You can choose to make the SDS paper or electronic.  

If you choose to put the SDS on your website, you must provide a paper version if someone asks for it. 

Approving safety data sheets 

The regulator doesn’t need to approve SDS.  

However, they can ask to review SDS to check they comply with WHS laws. 

Research chemicals, waste products and samples for analysis 

Making a complete SDS might not be practical for: 

  • research chemicals 

  • waste products 

  • samples for analysis. 

You can make a shorter SDS for these, noting: 

  • the manufacturer or importer’s name, Australian address and phone number  

  • that full identification or hazard information is not available for the chemical 

  • the chemical identity, structure or composition, if known 

  • known or suspected hazards 

  • precautions for using, handling or storing the chemical. 

Safety data sheets from overseas 

Overseas SDS must also have contact details for: 

  • the Australian manufacturer 

  • the Australian importer. 

Importers must: 

  • check labels, SDS and classifications comply with the GHS and Australian WHS Regulations.  

  • update labels, SDS and classifications with missing information. 

Reviewing and updating safety data sheets 

Manufacturers and importers of hazardous chemicals must review and update the information in an SDS every 5 years. 

All SDS must list the date when it was last reviewed and updated. This date is usually written in Section 16 – Any other relevant information, of the SDS. 

Supporting information