What Is A Safety Data Sheet? [+Template]

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a technical document which contains detailed information regarding the dangerous goods content of a product.

 A MSDS is prepared by the manufacturer or importer of hazardous goods. It describes the physical and chemical properties of the product and contains useful information for anyone who handles the product throughout the supply chain.

Please note that the Material Data Safety Sheet is now commonly known as simply the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Some jurisdictions may continue to use the term MSDS.


For International Shipping an SDS is used to identify the dangerous goods content of what’s being shipped, how to handle, store and transport the goods, what to do if the package is compromised as a result of an accident/mishandling and what emergency and first aid measures are to be applied. The UN classification found in the Transport Section of the SDS will determine how it can be transported and how it needs to be packed and labelled in accordance with the current Dangerous Goods Regulations.

sds example thumbnail
SDS Completed – Example


The content of the document is mandated by international regulations agreed upon by the United Nations. The sheet should contain a designated UN number to identify the relevant dangerous good.

The SDS is made up of 16 sections:

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.

Sample of Safety Data Sheet
Sample of Safety Data Sheet

By reading the SDS, you’ll find

  • The class/identification of the hazard;
  • Information regarding the composition of the goods’ ingredients;
  • First aid, firefighting and accidental release measures;
  • Information regarding the goods’ transport and regulatory framework; and
  • Information about its toxicity, reactivity, disposal and ecological impact.

The SDS is particularly important for the road transport component of shipping and the driver should carry a copy of the SDS whilst the cargo is on board. Once the cargo transfers from Road to Air or Sea the carrier will handle and transport the goods in accordance with the Dangerous Goods Declaration which derives its information from the SDS.

For sea shipments, a dangerous goods declaration needs to be completed known as an M041.

For air shipments, a similar document is required and can be downloaded here. 

If you have any remaining questions, our friendly and experienced team is always here to help. 

Request a Free Quote or call us on 1300 227 461

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