Safety Data Sheet updates

Safety Data Sheet updates: Is there any page (web) to get updated M)SDSs as Chemwatch doesn't do that automatically.

Also is it good to have Manifest with PDF SDSs on USB drive?

Thanks a lot

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Publication Date: 04 August 2016
Asked By: Anonymous
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Safety Data Sheet updates

We are unaware of any webpage/service that will automatically update SDSs.

Manifests are only required where hazardous chemicals that are also classified as dangerous goods are present at the workplace and where their quantities exceed certain amounts.   The majority of schools do not store anywhere near the quantity of dangerous goods requiring a chemical manifest. Exceptions may be schools with large quantities of dangerous goods, for example schools with LPG tanks with a capacity of 5000L or more, or manifest quantities of other hazardous chemicals, such as swimming pool chlorine.

All workplaces, including schools are required to maintain a chemical register and current SDSs that are readily accessible to all staff and be available in the event of an emergency. We provide the following suggestions and links to useful information and previous related questions that we have answered.

Getting updated SDSs:

  1. The first step is to identify which SDSs require updating. SDSs are required to be updated by manufacturers and importers of chemicals at least every 5 years. Workplaces should check that they have the most current SDS. We suggest that you manage your chemical register in an excel spreadsheet and include a column with the issue date for your SDSs. You can sort your worksheet according to this column to identify SDSs that have either expired or are approaching the 5 year anniversary of the publication or issue date.
  2. Next you will need to download the SDSs individually from the ChemWatch website. If you have several to print off, you can select the ones you require, save them into a folder and then print them off in a batch.  There is an online help section within the Chemwatch website if you experience any difficulties.
  3. Alternately you can go directly to the manufacturer's website to download them as necessary.

Science ASSIST recommends that this is done on a regular basis, for example a minimum of once a year coinciding with a chemical stocktake.

Storage of SDSs:

Employees/Workers should have easy access to SDSs for all hazardous chemicals that they may be exposed to in the workplace. Therefore, each workplace needs to make a site-specific decision regarding the format of the SDSs and their location. Schools need to follow the policy in their school or that of their school sector, whether to have electronic or printed copies or both.

  1. Electronic copies: In a school environment, electronic copies of SDSs can be stored in the school intranet system, e.g. WIKI, science department network space and/or via a chemical management system. They could also be stored on a USB drive. However provision needs to be made for easy access in the event of a power failure. Note that a USB drive may be easy to misplace due to its size.
  2. Printed copies: These can be read out easily and are also easily accessible.

Whilst an electronic record would be acceptable, Science ASSIST recommends that schools have a printed copy for easy access and in the event of a power failure.

Additional information:

The following documents provide good information:

‘Hazardous chemicals register fact sheet’ Safe Work Australia website.  (Accessed August 2016)

Safe Work Australia. July 2012. ‘Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace code of practice’   

We have provided detailed information regarding Safety Data Sheets and chemical registers in the answer to the following previous questions:

School Chemical Register:  requirement to include consumer goods

Chem register: inclusion of GHS

Chemical Register information & SDS printing query: items to include in register and requirement for printing SDSs

MSDS update: expiry of SDSs

Chemical Registers: difference between a manifest and a register

Safety Data Sheets: requirement for printed copies

Safety Data Sheets: downloading SDSs

Safety Data Sheet updates

In response to this subsequent comment:

I am concerned with the use of Safety Data Sheets produced by a third party. My understanding is we should obtain the SDS from the manufacturer. The only exception to this is if the manufacturer is no longer in business you can obtain a SDS of a similar product.

We confirm that SDSs must be obtained from the manufacturer, usually this is at the time of purchase. However as schools are likely to have chemicals for longer than 5 years and SDSs should be current and less than 5 years old, schools will need to update their SDSs accordingly. This can be done by contacting the manufacturer/ supplier, downloading from their website or by accessing the manufacturer's SDSs through a subscription to a commercial chemical management system such as Chemwatch.

In the event of the manufacturer no longer being in business you can obtain an Australian compliant generic SDS of the same chemical. In keeping with good housekeeping practice it is important to keep chemicals to a minimum. If the chemical is old it would be wise to confirm if the chemical is still required for the curriculum and if it is still in good condition. If not then we recommend that you dispose of the chemical.

Edited 30 November 2016: Further to this advice, where it is not possible to obtain an updated SDS prepared by an Australian manufacturer/importer, the most recent SDS must be kept. If you have any concerns regarding whether your SDS is compliant, then check with the work health and safety authority in your state/territory. For more information see a further question Third party Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)

General information on Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) can be found on the Safe Work Australia website, see:

Safety Data Sheet updates

I am concerned with the use of Safety Data Sheets produced by a third party. My understanding is we should obtain the SDS from the manufacturer. The only exception to this is if the manufacturer is no longer in business you can obtain a SDS of a similar product.

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