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Safety data sheets

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are designed to protect the health and safety of people in the workplace by providing information on the hazards of substances and how they should be safely used, stored, transported and disposed of.  SDSs also describe emergency procedures, such as what to do in the event of a spill or fire. Ideally SDSs should not be more than five years old.

When does an SDS need to be available?

The hazardous substances regulations require that your workplace have a safety data sheet (SDS) available for each hazardous substance that is present in excess of the relevant threshold quantity.  In reality, regardless of the quantities you have, it is best practice to have SDS for each hazardous substance at your site.  Along with the product label, the SDS is the most important means of conveying safety information. 

If you don’t have a SDS for any of the chemicals you use, ask your supplier for one.  They are required to provide you with them.

What information is required on the SDS?

 SDSs must include information under each of the following headings:

  1. Product and company identification
  2. Hazard(s) identification
  3. Composition and information on ingredients 
  4. First-aid measures 
  5. Fire-fighting measures 
  6. Spillage, accidental release measures 
  7. Handling and storage 
  8. Exposure controls and personal protection 
  9. Physical and chemical properties
  10. Stability and reactivity
  11. Toxicological information
  12. Ecological information
  13. Disposal considerations
  14. Transport information
  15. Regulatory information
  16. Other information 
The information on the safety data sheet must be available to a person handling the substance within 10 minutes of the information being required.
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Who is responsible for providing an SDS and ensuring it is compliant?

Sellers and suppliers of hazardous substances

The seller or supplier of a hazardous substance must supply an SDS if:

  • requested to do so
  • the substance being sold or supplied to a workplace is above the relevant threshold quantity
  • they had not previously supplied a SDS for that substance.

The seller or supplier is also responsible for ensuring the SDS is compliant.

Person in charge

The person in charge of the workplace must ensure that SDSs are present and available to workers, where threshold quantities are exceeded. A SDS must be available to a person handling the substance within 10 minutes.

Who do I complain to if a SDS is not compliant?

Contact the HS compliance team email:

Code of practice on SDS

A code of practice for SDSs has been prepared by the Responsible Care New Zealand (RCNZ). Copies of the code can be purchased from the RCNZ.

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What do I need to do to make my overseas SDS compliant?

A good quality SDS with the 16 headings identified above from Australia, UK or the USA should meet most New Zealand requirements. However, some additional information is required, including:

  • Name and contact details of the NZ supplier and NZ emergency contact details (Section 1 of the SDS)
  • HSNO regulatory information, including the HSNO approval number or title of the group standard, if relevant (Section 15 of the SDS)

This can be provided by adding a front sheet or over-sticker to the SDS.

How often should SDSs be updated?

Although it is not a legislative requirement, it is best practice for a SDS to be revised every five years.  A SDS must be updated if there is new information available on the substance, including its hazardous properties and any relevant health and safety information.


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