CHCS  Chemical Hazards Communication Society  Promoting the awareness of chemical hazards & improvements in their identification & communication

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) - Frequently Asked Questions

Question
What does the legislation require concerning the SDS Compiler Competence?

Answer
The European Union legislation concerning compilation of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) requires that the person compiling an SDS be "competent" (reference: REACH Regulation 1907/2006 Annex II Requirements for the compilation of Safety Data Sheets, para 0.2.3 of the introductory comments). The Regulation then says "Suppliers of substances and mixtures shall ensure that such competent persons have received appropriate training, including refresher training."

There is no further official EU requirement or guidance as to what constitutes appropriate training/refresher training. There is no EU or UK Government controlled, or approved, examination system with a set pass level and certification.

The requirement means that training should be given, or if applicable suitably refreshed, BEFORE a person is required by the employer to write or amend a Safety Data Sheet.

CHCS runs modular training for SDS writers, and the concept here is that the intended SDS compiler need only attend those modules of relevance - e.g. if the person is a toxicologist then there is no need to attend Module 5 – Basic Toxicology. Also it may be that the company has a person responsible for certain aspects of the tasks involved in order to compile an SDS, e.g. a Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA) providing the data for Section 14 may obviate the need for the SDS compiler to attend Module 8, Classification for Transport, and Module 10, Transport Labelling and Documentation.

The full list of current training modules can be found on the Training page of this website.

CHCS normally offers each Module at least once a year. Where there is sufficient demand, modules may be offered more frequently. If you would like to attend a Module that is not currently advertised, or for which is not due to be run for some time, please do get in touch with the office to let us know of your interest. Where there is sufficient interest, we will look at running additional Modules when feasible.

If you want to attend all of the modules, it might mean that it could take up to a year to become "competent" enough to undertake SDS compilation. For that reason you might want to consider running some of the Modules in-house or utilising a suitable CHCS listed consultant to carry out initial training to an adequate level to meet the legal requirements, with later attendance at some of the Modules to supplement, reinforce, extend or refresh this initial competence.

Question
Do the REACH regulations allow us to publish Safety Data Sheet updates on the internet and inform our customers that they can access them rather than having to supply hard copies?

Answer
REACH Regulation Article 31(8) says that you shall 'provide' a safety data sheet free of charge, on paper or electronically to the recipient. The word ‘provide’ implies a positive duty on behalf of the supplier to actively send the Safety Data Sheet to the customer. Simply posting this information on your website and passively allowing users to find the Safety Data Sheet is 'making available' the information and not 'providing' it and therefore you would not be complying with REACH.

Some suppliers have questioned whether it is ok to send a link to a Safety Data Sheet on a website by email instead of attaching, for example, a PDF document. Sending a link to your general website that would require customers to then search for and download this document would not be considered an acceptable way of providing this information.

There is an ongoing discussion over whether it is acceptable to provide a direct link in an email to some or all of the Safety Data Sheet. This discussion is particularly relevant where extended Safety Data Sheets with many exposure scenarios need to be provided. In such a case it is likely that there would be some conditions to providing information in this way. For example, the supplier would need to ensure that the URL of the Safety data Sheet did not change for a reasonable length of time in case their website was redeveloped, that recipients and perhaps Member State Competent Authorities might have to agree this in advance, and so on.

Question
Do I have to supply overseas customers with SDSs in their language?

Answer
For supply within the EU/EEA, REACH Article 31(5) says that the SDS shall be supplied in an official language of the Member State(s) where the product is placed on the market, unless the MS provides otherwise.

For supply outside of the EU/EEA, Article 17 of the PIC Regulation requires that a REACH-compliant SDS should be given to the non-EU/EEA customer, and that, far as practicable, this should be given in the official languages, or in one or more of the principal languages, of the country of destination or of the area of intended use.

Question
Whose name and address should appear in section 1 of the SDS?

Answer
The name and address should be that of the supplier placing the substance or mixture on the EU/EEA market whether that is the manufacturer, importer, only representative, downstream user or distributor.

If the supplier is outside the EU/EEA (note: even if in Switzerland) then an EU/EEA name & address is mandatory. In addition to the name and address of the EU/EEA supplier, details of the non-EU/EEA manufacturer or formulator can be optionally provided.

Question
If a mixture has been classified as non-hazardous does that mean that I don’t need to produce a Safety Data Sheet?

Answer
It’s not necessarily true that non-hazardous chemicals are not regulated by the REACH Regulation. Article 31(3) of REACH sets out requirements for Safety Data Sheets to be prepared and provided on request to customers for mixtures that are not classified as hazardous but which contain

  • hazardous substance(s) classified in respect of their health or environmental effects ≥1% for non-gaseous substances and ≥0.2% for gaseous substances
  • substance(s) classified as PBT or vPvB, or otherwise included on the Candidate List ≥0.1%
  • substance(s) for which there is a Community Workplace Exposure Limit

In this case the supplier must also label the mixture with the statement (EUH210) "Safety data sheet available for professional user on request".

Question
Do you recommend any software for creating and managing safety data sheets?

Answer
CHCS does not recommend any particular software. A list of some of the main providers of SDS compiling software can be found on the website of the German competent authority BAuA at http://www.baua.de/en/Topics-from-A-to-Z/Hazardous-Substances/Safety-data-sheet-software.pdf?__blob=publicationFile.

CHCS News

CHCS AGM & Annual Lectures - Celebrating 25 Years of CHCS
We are delighted to publish our draft program for the event, including speakers and presentation titles. 

There is still plenty of time to register for the event, which takes place on 20 November at Hilton Hotel, NEC, Birmingham. Free of charge for CHCS members. 

To find out more, download the flier or reserve your place please visit the CHCS 25th AGM event page [Posted on 8 October 2019]

Draft amendment to REACH Annex II
A consultation has been opened on the draft amendment to Annex II of REACH. The draft has also been notified to the World Trade Organisation – G/TBT/N/EU/680.  

CHCS Members can read more on the CHCS News Briefings page.  [Posted on 1 October 2019]

Poison Centre First Deadline To Be Postponed
The Competent Authorities for REACH and CLP (CARACAL) have agreed unanimously to the European Commission’s proposed changes to Annex VIII to CLP.  

CHCS Members can read more on the CHCS News Briefings page.   [Posted on 30 September 2019]

Webinar Series: "Introduction to Chemical Management in Latin America"
Our colleagues in the US-based Society for Chemical Hazard Communication (SCHC), have developed a series of webinars, each covering a different country. CHCS members can register at SCHC-member prices. For more details, see our SCHC web page.  
[Posted on 25 September 2019]

Updated advice for UK-based companies intending to export chemicals listed in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation to EU countries in the period immediately following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU
The HSE have supplied us with an e-bulletin to provide us with updates, news and information on the PIC Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 649/2012 concerning the export and import of hazardous chemicals).

CHCS Members can read more on the CHCS News Briefings page.  [Posted on 23 September 2019]

14th ATP To CLP: Outcomes For TiO2, Cobalt & DPTA
The European Commission has decided the outcome for TiO2, Cobalt and DPTA in relation to the 14th ATP. 

CHCS Members can read more on the CHCS News Briefings page. [Posted on 28 August 2019]

Endocrine Disruptors - 1st CHCS Video

We have produced our first video for members: "Endocrine Disruptors", which is available to members free-of-charge.

This introductory video explains the various components of the human endocrine system and how they interact, to help understand the mechanisms of endocrine disruptors on human systems.

The video is just over 10 minutes long.

To register for access to the video, please visit our video registration page: Endocrine Disruptors Video Registration.

[Posted on 1 July 2019]

News Briefings Summary
  • 22 July 2019
    Draft Amendment To "Poison Centre" Regulations

  • 22 July 2019
    Possible Annex VIII to CLP Extension?

  • 29 June 2019
    Workability Issues: Notification to Poison Centres

  • 24 June 2019
    Eurotunnel publishes 2019 guidance

  • 24 April 2019
    HSE Consultation on revision of Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) for a range of carcinogens


  • 28 March 2019
    Poison Centre Guidance Document Published

  • 22 March 2019
    Poison Centre Guidance Document Published

  • 23 January 2019
    Links To Guidance & Legislation Recently Laid Before Parliament

  • 23 January 2019
    RPA Seeks Input From Companies In Chemicals Supply Chain To Assess Impacts Of Brexit

  • 11 January 2019
    Preparing For A Potential 'No-Deal' Brexit

    CHCS Members can read these News items, and older posts, on the CHCS News Briefings page.

    9  July 2018 - CHCS Needs Your Help!

    CHCS has a number of vacancies on our committees and are looking for volunteers to fill them. For more information please see: CHCS Vacancies.

    Next 3 CHCS Training Courses:

    For a full list of our CHCS Training Courses, please visit our Training page. 

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