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.
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.
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.