Do I Need an SDS for Hazardous Products Not Classified by GHS?
January 26, 2023
Many workplaces may have hazardous products like pesticides, paints, welding rods, or batteries that may not be classified under GHS.
Many suppliers of products that are not classified under GHS have a safety data sheet (SDS) for the product (for example, consumer cleaning products). Products can claim to be non-hazardous or safe for household use, however, bringing them into the worksite often means they are used in greater quantities and used more regularly. If this is the case, the regulation (WHMIS or HazCom) makes the employer responsible for a Safety Data Sheet or Hazard Communication on the hazardous product.
Do I need an SDS for products purchased at the hardware or grocery store?
You need an SDS for every hazardous product you use in the workplace. It is important to understand the purpose and use of any product brought to the workplace when determining if an SDS is required.
By law, hazardous product suppliers must give you an SDS when you purchase the product. There is an allowance for cases of small quantity, “consumer” customers; that is why hazardous products from hardware and grocery stores are not sold with an SDS.
Hazardous products exempt from GHS classification
Other products hazardous but exempt from GHS classification include herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. These products are covered under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) in Canada or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States. As noted above, not carrying a classification under GHS does not mean they are not hazardous - some pesticides present severe health hazards such as organ and reproductive toxicity.
Products misrepresented as hazardous
Some chemical suppliers misrepresent their products as non-hazardous (welding rods/electrodes, flux) or have research to show that their product does not cause cancer (highly refined oils). In these cases, you want to have the SDS in your inventory even though it doesn’t carry a GHS classification. There are always new and improved cancer studies, and the list of carcinogens is not shrinking.
Some chemicals such as laboratory solutions, buffers, indicators, latex paint, are nontoxic but the hazard information is valuable to have on file as proof of safety. Competent workers, trained in WHMIS will ask about the hazards of the chemicals they are using.
Products with only a physical hazard
Some products are a physical hazard rather than a health hazard (asphyxiant gases, compressed gases, combustible dust) making them an N by Chemscape’s current ranking system.
Products with special handling or transport instructions
Some products are non-hazardous but require special transportation or handling procedures (lithium batteries).
SDS management made easy with sdsBinders
SDSs are created to serve many purposes. Employers are required to provide workers and staff with training and education relating to safe handling, health effects and storage of even GHS-exempt products. With Chemscape’s SDS management software, sdsBinders, you can say goodbye to the paper chaos and complexity of chemical management. Contact Chemscape today to learn more.