Labelling and safety data sheets

It's important that hazardous substances are labelled correctly and consistently.

Labelling

Labelling provides information on the hazards of substances so they can be managed safely in order to protect both people and the environment. This is often the most readily available information in an emergency.

Manufacturers, suppliers and sellers of hazardous substances must ensure they provide labelling in accordance with the hazards of the substances.

The label should include information on:

  • the hazards of the substance
  • disposal of the substance
  • emergency management, e.g. first aid
  • anything else specified in the controls of the substance.

Please consult our document Labelling of hazardous substances, which provides guidance on labelling.

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)

Safety Data Sheets 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. SDSs should not be more than five years old.

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 an SDS for any of the chemicals you use, ask your supplier for one. They are required to provide you with one.

SDSs must include information under each of the following headings:

  • Product and company identification  
  • Hazard(s) identification  
  • Composition and information on ingredients  
  • First-aid measures  
  • Fire-fighting measures  
  • Spillage, accidental release measures  
  • Handling and storage  
  • Exposure controls and personal protection  
  • Physical and chemical properties  
  • Stability and reactivity  
  • Toxicological information  
  • Ecological information  
  • Disposal considerations  
  • Transport information  
  • Regulatory information  
  • Other information

EPA Notices

The new EPA Notices on Labelling and SDSs must also be taken into account. The link below takes you to the EPA Notices and our fact sheets about what has changed. Please consult these before finalising your Labelling and Safety Data Sheets.

EPA Notices for hazardous substances

Ensuring labels and SDSs are compliant and who must provide them Plus

Labelling

Suppliers or sellers of hazardous substances must ensure that their products comply with labelling requirements, including ensuring that all relevant information is on the label, and that it is readily understandable, legible and durable.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

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.

A workplace has requirements for SDSs and labels. These can be viewed on the hazardous substances section of the WorkSafe website.

For concerns about non-compliant SDSs or labels contact the hazardous substances compliance team at hscompliance@epa.govt.nz

Updating SDSs and making overseas SDSs compliant with New Zealand law Plus

Allowing for the transitional provisions, it is a legal requirement for an SDS to be revised every five years. An SDS must be updated if there is new information available on the substance, including its hazardous properties and any relevant health and safety information.

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

  • Name and contact details of the New Zealand supplier and New Zealand 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).