What Goes on an SDS? A Helpful Guide
Safety Data Sheets

Your profession includes working with hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Are there procedures in place to ensure that all Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are current?

If the answer is no, you’re at risk for citations from Federal OSHA. Keep reading for an overview of each section of the SDS.

What Are SDS?

Safety Data Sheets give employers and employees vital data about the chemicals they use. The SDS has 16 standard sections to maintain continuity and ease of use. These sections give instructions for safe handling, storing, and moving the chemical.

They also provide detailed information about known chemical properties and hazards. The emergency procedures explain the actions to take in the event of leakage and/or exposure.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers must maintain current SDSs for all chemicals used in the workplace. They’re also responsible for providing employee training and ready access to SDSs. In 2019, the number 2 reason for Federal OSHA citations was violating Hazard Communication standards.

What Goes on an SDS?

Appendix D of the 29 CFR 1910.1200(g) The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) defines the SDS format. Sections 1 to 11 and 16 are mandatory on all SDS. Sections 12 to 15 are optional.

Section 1: Identification

This part must provide identification of the chemical. Includes the product identifier from the label as well as synonyms or common names.

List the name, phone number, and address of manufacturers, importers, or other parties. Provide an emergency phone number for employees to call. Describe the recommended use for this chemical and any restrictions.

Section 2: Hazard Identification

Identify potential hazards for all identified chemicals. Include the hazard classification such as flammable liquid. Also give hazard, precautionary, and hazard descriptions.

Some substances contain a mixture of ingredients and the toxicity isn’t known. In this case, describe the percentage of ingredients with unknown acute toxicity.

Signal Words

Put the signal words CAUTION, WARNING, or DANGER in this section. This word describes the risk if eaten, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin as follows:

  • CAUTION: slight toxicity and some skin and eye irritation
  • WARNING: moderate toxicity and moderate skin or eye irritation
  • DANGER: high toxicity via at least one route and causes corrosive and/or permanent skin or eye damage

Highly toxic chemicals are poisons. The front product label must include the word, POISON, in red letters.


Pictograms can be black and white graphics that symbolize the hazard. Examples include a flame or skull and crossbones. It can also be a description of the symbol’s name.

Section 3: Composition and Information About Ingredients

Describe the product’s ingredients and any impurities or stabilizing additives. The following gives more detail about mandatory data.


Include the chemical name, synonyms, common names, and the Chemical Abstracts Service number. Describe all classified impurities and stabilizing additives in the chemical’s classification.


Document the substance data and the exact percentage of health hazard ingredients. Concentration ranges aren’t required if there’s a trade secret claim. This exemption applies if mixtures change batch-to-batch. SDSs for groups of very similar products are also exempt.

If information was withheld due to trade secrets, include an explanatory statement.

Section 4: First-Aid Instructions

This section describes the specific actions to take for chemical exposures. Include instructions for ingestion, inhalation, and/or skin and eye contact. Detail possible immediate or delayed symptoms and when to get medical care.

Section 5: Fire-Fighting Instructions

Explain the proper procedure and equipment to use when fighting this type of fire. Define other hazards related to burning this chemical. These instructions tell firefighters about the precautions and personal protective equipment (PPE) needed.

Section 6: Instructions for an Accidental Release

Describe the steps to take if the chemical gets spilled or released. Includes the PPE to use and emergency procedures such as evacuation. Explain how to contain the release and safely clean it up.

Section 7: Storage and Handling

Provide guidance on how to safely store and handle the chemical. Includes mandatory hygiene practices, ventilation, and substance incompatibility.

Section 8: Exposure Control and PPE

List OSHA’s permissible exposure limits and threshold limit values here. Also include required PPE and engineering controls.

Section 9: Chemical and Physical Properties

Give a detailed description of the chemical. Describes its appearance and upper and lower flammability and explosive limits. Some examples of other features include:

  • Vapor pressure and density
  • Odor and odor threshold
  • pH
  • Initial boiling point and range
  • Decomposition and auto-ignition temperature
  • Evaporation rate
  • Melting and freezing point
  • Viscosity
  • Flammability in solid or gas form
  • Solubility
  • Flashpoint

Only relevant data needs to appear on the SDS.

Section 10: Reactivity and Stability

Include reactivity data that describes the expected hazard of the chemical. Chemical stability indicates how stable or unstable a substance is in normal ambient conditions. This applies during storage or when handled.

Include other hazardous chemical-release reaction concerns such as dangerous pressure or heat. Document environmental situation risks such as shock, static discharge, or vibration. Also, describe the dangers involved with the decomposition of the product.

Section 11: Toxicology Information

Describe all known potential health and toxicological effects. List the most common exposure routes such as ingestion, inhalation, skin, and eyes. Explain the immediate, delayed, and chronic effects of both short- and long-term exposure.

Section 12: Ecological Description

Give information about the chemical’s impact on the environment. Includes how long the effects may last.

Section 13: What to Consider During Disposal

Explain how to safely handle and dispose of chemical waste. Includes the proper management of all contaminated packaging.

Section 14: How to Transport the Substance

Provide instruction on how to pack, mark, and label hazardous chemicals for transportation. Includes the four-digit identification number for the substance (UN number).

Labels must list the proper UN shipping name, transportation hazard class, and special precautions. Any environmental hazards should be listed as well.

Section 15: Regulatory Statements

All safety, environmental, and health regulations must be described. This includes OSHA, EPA, Department of Transportation, and Consumer Product Safety Commission rules.

Section 16: Other Information

Document the date the SDS was created and all revision dates. You can also describe where to find revisions.

Are You Looking for an SDS Solution?

Ensuring that every chemical used in your business has a current SDS can be a full-time job. This is where KHA can become a vital partner. Our SDS management software handles this process for you.

We tailor and integrate our platform to work with your current systems. Our quality services cover SDS authoring, delivery, vendor management, and archiving.

Contact us today to learn about our services and get a quote.