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What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a document that provides information about hazardous substances and dangerous goods. Additionally, it will detail the hazards associated with those substances that may affect workplace health and safety. An MSDS may also be referred to as a Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

Under the Work Health and Safety Regulations and the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (Hazardous Substances and Materials), an MSDS must accompany all hazardous chemicals and dangerous goods. 

What information does a MSDS contain?

 Generally, an MSDS contains information about:

  • The manufacturer or importing supplier
  • The identity of the chemical
  • Health and physicochemical hazards
  • Safe handling and storage procedures
  • Emergency procedures
  • Disposal considerations

Under Victorian legislation an MSDS should be written in English and be  simple, clear,precise and avoid confusing jargon.

Who prepares an MSDS?

The manufacturer or importer of a hazardous chemical or dangerous goods is required by law to provide an MSDS. A supplier (retail outlets excepted) must also provide the MSDS developed by the manufacturer.

Code of Practice

Safe Work Australia has developed a Model Code of Practice – Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals, which outlines practical steps on how to prepare an MSDS. 

However, the specific regulations and Codes of Practice associated with preparation of an MSDS may differ in each Australian jurisdiction, so it is important to check with the regulator in your state or territory.

MSDS in the workplace

Employers are responsible for obtaining an up-to-date MSDS for each hazardous substance or product. Employees, contractors and first aiders must have easy access to the MSDS.

An MSDS is an important tool for eliminating or minimising the risks associated with the use of hazardous chemicals in workplaces.

What is a hazardous chemical?

A hazardous chemical refers to any substance, mixture or article that satisfies the criteria for a hazard class in the nationally agreed Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

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