GHS Course page 6 | Industrial & Construction Safety Solutions



Safety Data Sheets

The safety data sheet is a document created or obtained by the supplier of the product. It must be provided to the customer at the time of sale, and it provides more detailed information about the hazardous product than the label does. Employers and workers use the information on the SDS to protect themselves from hazards, for safe handling, storage, use procedures, and for emergency measures.

There are 4 basic questions that are answered by the SDS:

What are the identities of the product and the supplier? 

What are the hazards?

  • Can this material harm my health?
  • What are the early warning symptoms and signs of overexposure?   
  • Is this material a fire hazard? 
  • Can this material explode or react if mixed with other materials? Which ones?

What precautions should I take to work safely with this material? 

  • Is special ventilation needed?
  • Do I need to wear a respirator, gloves or other personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling this material?

What do I do in the case of an emergency?

  • What do I do in case of overexposure?
  • In case of a spill?
  • In case of a fire?

The information on the SDS should be used along with your knowledge of the specific ways the product is used in your workplace to know what controls you need. Look for recommendations about precautions, these statements could include safe handling and use, or be about ventilation (general or local exhaust) and personal protective equipment that may be needed. 

SDSs must:

  • Be readily available to everyone in the workplace. 
  • Be available in English and French
  • May be stored in a binder or they may be stored electronically on a computer. 
  • Employer must make an SDS available in paper format if requested by an employee 


The SDS has 16 sections, a variable number of pages and are available for every hazardous product in your workplace that is covered by WHMIS. Your employer must obtain or prepare them, and show you how to access them. There is a standardized format for the SDS, the information must always be in the same section, regardless of which supplier created the SDS.

The 16 sections are:

  1. Identification
  2. Hazard Identification 
  3. Composition/Information on Ingredients
  4. First-Aid Measures
  5. Fire-Fighting Measures
  6. Accidental Release Measures
  7. Handling and Storage
  8. Exposure Controls/Personal Protection
  9. Physical & Chemical Properties
  10. Stability & Reactivity
  11. Toxicological Information
  12. Ecological Information
  13. Disposal Considerations
  14. Transport Information
  15. Regulatory Information
  16. Other Information

**Sections 12, 13, 14 and 15 require the headings to be present, but under WHMIS, the supplier has the option to not provide information in these sections.**

SDS Updates

SDSs are required to be accurate at the time of sale. An SDS will be required to be updated when the supplier becomes aware of any "significant new data".

The definition of "significant new data" is:

"New data regarding the hazard presented by a hazardous product that changes its classification in a category or subcategory of a hazard class, or result in its classification in another hazard class, or change or change the ways to protect against the hazard presented by the hazardous product."

(Source: Canada Gazette, Part II, Hazardous Products Regulations, Section 5.12 (1))

This definition means that an SDS must be updated when there is new information that changes how the hazardous product is classified, or when there are changes to the way you will handle or store or protect yourself from the hazards of the product.

SDSs will be required to be updated within 90 days of the supplier being aware of the new information. If you purchase a product within this 90 day time period, the supplier must inform you of the significant new data and the date on which it became available in writing.


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