2. Safety Data Sheets


Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) provide the information needed to allow the safe handling of hazardous substances used at the workplace.  University employees are required to comply with these procedures for the management of hazardous substances.

2.1  Legal Requirements

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) and the Workplace Health and Safety Regulations, 2011 Hazardous Chemicals, require that SDSs be supplied for all hazardous substances in the workplace.

It is the responsibility of the manufacturer, the supplier or the importer to provide a SDS for any hazardous material supplied to the workplace. 

It is the responsibility of the employer (the University) to request a SDS for all hazardous substances and to ensure that the SDS is easily accessible to all persons using the substance and that a central register of hazardous substances is maintained.

Safety Data Sheets must be in accordance with the Workplace Health and Safety Regulations, 2011 Hazardous Chemicals.  A SDS should provide sufficient information to enable users of the hazardous substance to handle them safely, to understand their potential dangers and to take appropriate action in case of an emergency. 

2.2  Obtaining a SDS

Cost centres must request that a SDS be supplied with the first delivery of a hazardous substance.  There is no need to obtain SDSs with every delivery, unless the information on the SDS has been changed.

The University also has access to ChemWatch - ChemGold3 which allows users to search and print SDSs from a database of 13 million SDSs. For access to this program, please contact USQSafe for login details.

A Safety Data sheet older than five years must be updated by the supplier at the request of the University.

A supplier must provide a SDS if requested by the University.

2.2.1 Manufacturers, suppliers and importers

Where a SDS has not been provided, the purchasing officer must request it from the manufacturer, importer or supplier.

If the SDS will not be provided the purchaser is NOT to accept delivery.

Attachment 1 is a sample letter which may be used to request a SDS by mail or fax.  Refer also to Section 4 - Purchasing, for information on the procedures for purchasing hazardous substances.

The hazardous substance must not be placed in the workplace until the manufacturer's, importer's or supplier's SDS is available in the workplace.

The USQ Bookshop does not have to supply a SDSs if the product supplied is for retail sale and is contained in a consumer package that will not be opened in the store.  The USQ Bookshop must however abide by all other requirements under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).

2.2.2 Overseas SDSs

Occasionally an overseas SDS does not meet the standard described in the National Code of  Practice for the Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals.  In this situation the University may after consultation with employees and USQSafe, arrange for the overseas SDS to be made available as an interim measure (on condition that the overseas/foreign SDS can be completely understood by USQ), pending the production by the supplier or importer of an appropriate safety data sheet. 

Refer to the Chemwatch computer system in use in some faculties for a SDS.

2.2.3 Hazardous substances produced at USQ

For hazardous substances produced at the University, the University has the following responsibilities as the manufacturer:

  • to undertake a risk assessment;
  • to determine if a substance is hazardous;
  • to prepare a SDS as soon as possible after the substance is produced;
  • to ensure the SDS is kept current and is reviewed at least every five years;
  • to ensure an appropriate label is fixed to the container of a hazardous substance when it is supplied for use in a workplace.

To obtain information about health hazards and precautions for inclusion in a SDS, it may be necessary to contact USQSafe or the Office of Fair and Safe Work Queensland.

The Model Work Health and Safety Regulations (2011) state that if it manufactures a hazardous chemical, the University must develop a SDS and send a copy to the Australian National Safety Data Sheet Repository, maintained by the Australian Safety and Compensation Council.  Further information is available from USQSafe.

2.3  Content of SDSs

Manufacturers and importers have an obligation under the Workplace Health and Safety Regulations, 2011 Hazardous Chemicals to provide correct and up-to-date SDS.  The checklist below outlines the key information to be included in a SDS.

2.3.1 Checklist - SDS

Supplier details

  • Manufacturer, supplier or importer's name, address and phone number
  • Date of issue

Details of hazardous chemical

  • Product name or names
  • Australian Dangerous Goods classification, UN number, Subsidiary Risk and Hazchem code, as appropriate.
  • Chemical and physical properties
     -  ingredients
     -  boiling point, melting point, flash point, vapour pressure, etc
  • Health hazards
     -  acute and chronic health effects by the four main routes of exposure or contact (swallowing, eyes, skin, inhaling)

Safe use instructions

  • Exposure standards relating to the ingredients of the product
  • Engineering controls and personal protective equipment requirements
  • Safe handling information for storage, transport, disposal, etc

Emergency responses

  • First aid and advice to doctor
  • Dealing with spills, etc

Other information

  • Manufacturer's or supplier's contact point for further information

A sample SDS is included in Attachment 2.

2.3.2 Modifying a SDS

The information on SDSs must not be altered by a user; otherwise that person becomes legally responsible for the information.  SDS may only be changed in accordance with an amendment by the manufacturer or importer.

If anyone wishes to add information to the supplier's SDS, it should be added on a separate page and be clearly marked as not part of the original SDS.  A copy must then be sent to USQSafe for checking prior to the SDS going in the workplace.

2.4  Register of SDSs

A register of current SDSs must be maintained in hard copy in each cost centre at the University where hazardous substances are used.

A copy of a SDS must be placed in the Register immediately it is received or prepared.

Each cost centre must also keep a copy of the SDS in the workplace close enough to where the substance is being used to allow easy reference for employees and students who may be exposed to the substance.  Where a SDS is stored on a computer database, there must be a means of printing out the data sheet in a paper copy.

The Category 4 Delegate must ensure that employees and others are made aware of the location of the SDS and the register and that they are trained in how to access information.

2.5  Outdated SDSs

A SDS older than five years must be updated by the supplier at the request of the University.

All SDS must be retained for 30 years from the date of issue.  The Category 4 Delegate should ensure that outdated or superseded SDSs are placed into archive storage.  Category 4 Delegates should contact Corporate Records for archiving information.

2.6  USQSafe Contact

Manager (USQSafe) 

2.7 Status

Published October 1998
Reviewed October 2009
Review October 2012

2.8 References

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)

Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2011 Hazardous Chemicals (Qld)

Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice 2003