Dummy’s guide to Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
We all hear about safety data sheets (SDS) but we thought we’d do a dummy’s guide to what they are, what they should contain and how to use them.
Safety data sheets are an internationally accepted way to provide information on chemical products that help users of those chemicals to make a risk assessment.
They describe what the product is, the hazards the chemical presents, information on working safely with the product/substance, storage requirements and emergency measures in case of an accident.
Your workplace should have access to a SDS for every product they use that requires one such as inks, disinfectants, products used for sterilising.
This is one of the reasons we created the portal, to provide quick access to this information.
In addition to that some countries require you to come up with a risk assessment based off of the information in the safety data sheets. This is generally down to the studio or shop owner. So the SDS isn’t a risk assessment, it only contains information to help you make your own assessment.
A risk assessment is generally a document that outlines
- What the potential hazards are in the workplace
- Who could be affected by the hazards
- How the risks can be mitigated
- How accidents can be dealt with
- Who deals with what eg who deals with first aid
In a safety data sheet, sections that cover Hazards, Firefighting measures and First aid can help in creating a risk assessment for your studio.
Fortunately for tattoo and cosmetic inks they are generally similar, have similar storage and handling requirements and safety measures. You still need access to all of the SDS of the inks you use but knowing the information in an SDS of a specific brand usually means it’s similar for all the inks in that brand. Things like identification (colour) or composition will vary though so it’s still good practice to have a quick read through for the outliers.
Generally a SDS has 16 sections.
As this is the dummy’s guide we’ve listed the sections with a brief overview of what you can expect to find in them. It’s not a complete breakdown of each section and for a better understanding of safety data sheets and what each section may contain I’d encourage you to read the document linked at the end of this list. It’s pretty thorough and technical but is close to a complete overview of what a safety data sheet contains.
I’m not sure if it’s required reading but it’s linked all the same.
So, 16 sections, here we go..
- Identification of the substance/mixture and details of the supplier/manufacturer
A brief description of the product and address details of who is supplying it and the manufacturer together with emergency contact details
Hazards of the substance and any warning associated with it, it may also contain some precautionary statements. Generally you’ll find the same information on the label
3. Compositional/information on ingredients
A basic breakdown of the substance is made of, for inks this is generally the CI (colour index) numbers and any wetting agents used. For hazardous ingredients there’s usually a mention of the concentration of the ingredient.
4. First aid measures
What to do if there are negative reactions to inhalation, eye contact, ingestion, reactions
5. Firefighting measures
What to do if the substance catches on fire or is exposed to flame and any protective equipment that should be used
6. Accidental release measures
What to do if a person or the environment is exposed to the substance and methods for contaminants and cleaning spillages
7. Handling and storage
The conditions for safe storage and precautions for safe handling of the substance
8. Exposure controls / personal protection
Personal protective equipment (PPE) to use when handling the substance as well as what to do if exposed to the substance
9. Physical and chemical properties
- What state the substance is in ie. liquid, gas etc..
- Identifiable odour, the melting and freezing points, flammability of substance, danger of explosion
- Viscosity, solubility in water (can it be mixed), density and evaporation rate
10. Stability and reactivity
- Does it react to any other substance, under what conditions is it stable ie room temperature or don’t allow to freeze
- Any possibility of hazardous reactions, conditions to avoid (eg too much light) and incompatible materials (what not to use it with)
11. Toxicological information
- A concise description of toxicological health effects in relevant hazard classes such as :
- Acute toxicity
- Skin corrosion/irritation
- Serious eye damage/irritation
- Respiratory or skin sensitisation
- Germ cell mutagenicity
- Reproductive toxicity
12. Ecological information
- Information regarding the environmental impact of the substance when released into the environment such as aquatic toxicity, the effect on plants and insects or other organisms.
13. Disposal considerations
- Proper waste management of the substance to ensure safe disposal
14. Transport information
- Whether special documentation is required for transport or if it’s classified as a Dangerous Good and has specific transport requirements
15. Regulatory Information
- Other information not mentioned in the SDS ie
- If a chemical safety assessment has been carried out
- If it’s related to ozone layer depletion or is an organic pollutant
- Specific national requirements or compliance with safety and/or environmental regulations
16. Other information
- Any additional information not covered in the other sections
- Revisions or changes to the SDS
- A legend to abbreviations and acronyms used in the SDS
- References or sources for evaluating the information presented in the SDS
- A list of relevant hazards and/or precautionary statements
The sections are kind of self explanatory and you don’t need to commit any of the information to memory, you only need to ensure you have access to the safety data sheets should you need them. As mentioned they’re also helpful in creating a risk assessment if required by local authorities.
As I mentioned before a complete breakdown can be found in the pdf document linked below.
If you feel we missed anything or have additional references or information we could link to feel free to drop us a message on email@example.com