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The content following is in the process of being transitioned from WorkCover to SafeWork SA.

Material safety data sheets (MSDS)

Materials Safety Data Sheets record information about proprietary chemicals. They indicate whether the chemical is classified as hazardous or non-hazardous according to the Worksafe criteria.

You can find this on the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission website. This is a good site to visit if you want information on occupational health and safety in Australia. There are numerous documents on health and safety law and on the management of chemicals and hazards in the workplace.

The manufacturer or importer of a hazardous substance is responsible for providing an MSDS.

Employers must:

  • obtain an up-to-date MSDS before purchasing a new substance from the supplier or manufacturer, which must not be more than 5 years old
  • keep an inventory of all chemicals stored or used by the business
  • make this information available to appropriate employees.

See an example of a chemical substance inventory sheet in download documents (Chemical substance inventory sheet).

An MSDS should meet requirements of the Approved Code of Practice for the Preparation of Material Safety Data Sheets, which can be found on the WorkCover website, and include:

  • the name and address of the manufacturer
  • the trade name of the substance
  • whether or not the substance is hazardous according to the Worksafe criteria
  • the chemical constituents of the substance
  • data associated with international and national classification schemes
  • subsidiary risk and emergency procedure guides
  • descriptions of the physical nature of the material, such as colour, odour appearance

A section of the data sheet should also include:

  • properties of the substance, such as boiling point, flammability limits, flash point, vapour density and vapour pressure
  • safe packaging, transport and storage requirements
  • spill and disposal advice
  • health effects
  • first aid requirements
  • personal protective equipment that needs to be used when handling the substance.

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