Safety data sheets are intended to provide the users of chemicals with the necessary information to help them protect human health and the environment. Users of chemicals are companies or individuals within the European Union/European Economic Area who use a substance, either on its own or in a mixture, in their industrial or professional activities. Safety data sheets are intended both for the workers who handle the chemicals and for those responsible for safety. The format of the safety data sheet is defined in the REACH Regulation.
When should a safety data sheet be provided?
A safety data sheet should be provided when:
• A substance or a mixture is classified as hazardous;
• A substance is persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) or very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB); or
• A substance is included in the Candidate List for Authorisation according to REACH for other reasons than the above.
Mixtures which are not classified as hazardous, but which contain specified concentrations of certain hazardous substances, also require a safety data sheet to be provided on request.
If a supplier updates a safety data sheet, he must provide updated versions to all recipients to whom
the substance or mixture has been supplied within the preceding 12 months.
A closer look for recipients
What should you do when you receive a safety data sheet?
When you receive a safety data sheet, you need to identify and apply appropriate measures to properly control the risks at your site. You should also perform a consistency and plausibility check of the safety data sheet contents at a level appropriate to your circumstances. This is to avoid using inaccurate SDS information as a basis for workplace and environmental safety assessments. In particular, you should compare all sections related to chemical identification, composition, classification, and safe use against your own information on the substance or mixture. Assess any discrepancies and take appropriate corrective actions. If you have new information on the hazardous properties of substances and mixtures, or consider that the advice provided in the SDS or in other information supplied is not appropriate, you have to communicate it up the supply chain to suppliers. If exposure scenarios are attached to the SDS, look at the “Exposure Scenario” section of this Guide for additional obligations that apply. Formulators of mixtures may have integrated the information from exposure scenarios for constituent substances into the main body of the SDS, or provided them in a consolidated annex instead of attaching them individually. Such information must then be treated like information from an exposure scenario, with the ensuing obligations for downstream users. If a safety data sheet is not required but is provided voluntarily, you do not have specific obligations under REACH. However, you have a general obligation to use chemicals safely.
A closer look for suppliers
The contents of the different sections of the safety data sheet are prescribed in the legal text of Annex II to the REACH Regulation. These are the main references that suppliers should use when compiling their safety data sheets. This Guide provides tips for suppliers on issues to watch out for within each section.
When should you update a safety data sheet?
You should provide an update of the safety data sheet when:
• new information on the risk management measures, or new information on hazards becomes available;
• once an authorisation has been granted or refused, or a restriction has been imposed.
It is, in any case, recommended to review the contents of a safety data sheet at regular intervals.
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