Issuing Safety Data Sheets to users

Where a product requires a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), one must be issued to the purchaser or user on or before the date of first supply.  Note that SDSs are not required for consumer products, those sold to the general public.

SDSs must be supplied in the language of the user, and they must be free of charge.  However, the person selling the SDS is the supplier, so if you sell in the UK to someone who exports to France, technically it is up to them to provide their French customers with an SDS in French.

You are also required to send an updated SDS to everyone who has purchased the product in the past 12 months “without undue delay” in the following circumstances:

  • as soon as new information which may affect the risk management measures, or new information on hazards becomes available
  • Once an authorisation has been granted or refused
  • Once a restriction has been imposed

Many companies have traditionally sent out a printed SDS, either before or with the first supply of the product (which would include supplying a sample, whether free or paid-for).  Sending hard copy SDSs is still allowed under CLP.

However, it is also possible to send an electronic SDS, saving on time and print costs.  Initially within CLP/ REACH, it was stipulated that you actively had to supply a soft copy SDS e.g. via email, and could not provide a generic link to a website containing all your SDSs.

This has now been broadened to allow you to supply a link to a website to allow the end user to download the SDS, providing it is a specific link to the correct SDS.  This is a bit of a grey area, and if you are using website download, we recommend to check with the HSE (or other Competent Authority, if you are outside the UK, see that they think your system is acceptable.

Most products only require a single SDS, but more than one may be required for multiple component products such as glues, see .

Updates “without undue delay”

The requirement to send out updated SDSs “without undue delay” is open to interpretation.  Unlike other deadlines within REACH and CLP, where there is a limit of 45 days for the provision of information on demand, this is quite open-ended.

How quickly you can update your SDSs and send them out will vary from company to company, depending on how soon you find out about changes, and how rapidly you can have your SDSs updated, which in turn depends on whether you are writing them in-house or externally, whether you use software etc.

It is sensible to assume that any important changes to do with the hazards or how to manage the hazards, such as change in classification, or Authorisation, or Restriction should be made as soon as practicable.  Other less important changes may not be required to be updated quite as quickly, but you should make an effort to keep your SDSs up to date, and be able to demonstrate this to the regulator (the HSE in the UK).

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