Safety data sheets provide important information about your hazardous substances. It is mandatory to have a current safety data sheet for each of the hazardous substances in your workplace regardless of the quantity you hold.

What is a safety data sheet?

A safety data sheet (SDS) provides comprehensive information about the properties of a hazardous substance, how it affects health and safety in the workplace and how to manage these risks. An SDS explains how the substance should be safely used, stored, transported and disposed of. It provides first aid information, information about the personal protective equipment that the person handling the substance should wear and what to do in the event of an emergency, such as a spill or fire.

How and when do I get a safety data sheet?

The supplier of a hazardous substance to a workplace must provide a HSNO compliant SDS with their products.

There is also a duty on the PCBU that is being supplied with a hazardous substance to obtain a SDS:

  • when the hazardous substance is first supplied. This includes if it is the first time it has been supplied to the workplace in five years.
  • when the hazardous substance is first supplied after the SDS has been amended.

What do I do with my safety data sheets?

A current SDS for each hazardous substance (or a condensed version of the key information from the safety data sheet, for example a product safety card) must be kept with your inventory.  It must be read, the risks posed by the substance understood and the appropriate measures put in place to manage them. You can see more about the information you will find in an SDS in Your practical guide to working with hazardous substances(external link)

The full SDS, or the condensed version, must be readily accessible to people who may handle, or be exposed to, the hazardous substance such as workers and emergency services personnel.

Workers will also need to be trained on and made aware of the dangers associated with a new hazardous substance, or on an existing substance when the SDS changes.

What does ‘readily accessible’ mean?

This means that the document is capable of being accessed without difficulty in hard copy, electronic, or other form.

Do I always need to have a safety data sheet?

There are a few exceptions. You don’t need an SDS for:

  • a hazardous substance that is in transit.
  • a hazardous substance that is a consumer product to be used in quantities consistent with household use.
  • a hazardous substance in a retailer’s premises that is a consumer product and is in that workplace only for the purpose of supply to other premises and is not intended to be opened on the retailer’s premises.
  • anhydrous ammonia contained in equipment that forms part of any other equipment in which anhydrous ammonia is used as a refrigerant (unless the quantity of anhydrous ammonia is more than 100 kg).

However, in any of these exclusions you must make sure that information about the safe use, handling, and storage of the substance is readily accessible to workers.

Find out more

See our quick guide:

Safety data sheets in the workplace - quick guide (PDF 88 KB)