When you import DG cargo from China, freight forwarders always ask you to provide an MSDS sheet. This article is just written for you to know more about MSDS.

What is MSDS?

MSDS, Material Safety Data Sheets, is a technical document that provides detailed information about hazardous ingredients involved in products. It is one of the necessary documents for your import of DG cargo. MSDS indicates how to store, ship, and respond effectively when an emergency happens, all of which are essential for shipping safety on the way.

At the very beginning, MSDS aims at chemical products like sulfuric acid, but later it is also required by other finished products and chemical mixtures like cosmetics. This is why GHS adjusted standards and renamed it to be SDS. It covers a wider range after deleting “M” in MSDS. Thus, simply put, MSDS and SDS are actually the same documents.

As buyers, you also need to know:

  • The UK and all EU members only accept SDS.
  • China and most developed countries like the US, Australia, and Canada accept both documents.
  • Saudi Arabia, Iran, and some African countries like Kenya, haven’t used SDS yet. That is to say, it’s ok to provide MSDS. However, changes may happen in the future. Please remember to check the latest regulations before shipping.

When do you need Material Safety Data Sheet?

Typically, shipping DG cargo requires MSDS, but now it is also a must for common commodities containing dangerous ingredients. Here I list some common products requesting MSDS:

1. Cosmetics

Skincare products and makeup products, such as lip gloss, nail polish, and perfume. Because they contain highly inflammable ingredients.

2. Products involving batteries

  • Lithium batteries, lead-acid batteries, NiMH batteries, sodium-sulfur batteries, and solar batteries are involved, such as balancing scooters and digital cameras.
  • Dry batteries usually don’t require MSDS like Alkaline batteries, Zn-Mn batteries, and Carbon-Zinc batteries, but button cell batteries need it.

3. Stationery

Pencils, ballpoint pens, ink, glue and correction fluids, etc., because they contain toxic ingredients.

4. Toys

Common toys include plasticine, magnetic blocks, bubble solution, sticky toys, etc., for checking if excess hazardous ingredients are involved or not.

5. Daily commodities

Hand sanitizers, essential oil, mosquito coils, glass, fire extinguishers, and leatherette sofa, etc., for they contain flammable ingredients.

6. Plastic products

Those involve PP, PE, ABS, PET, PVC, etc., such as PVC shoes and gloves.

7. Chemical products

Paint, printing ink, petrol, lubricants, paraffin, alcohol, and adhesives, etc.

8. Minerals and metals

Stainless steel, magnets, metal alloy, and alloy powder, iron ore, ceramics, ore powder, and limestone, etc.

9. Others

Food additives, pesticides, fertilizers, etc.

What’s the purpose of MSDS?

If you import the above products, MSDS is a necessary document for shipping. Specifically speaking, it is because:

  • Freight forwarders need MSDS to arrange shipments.
  • Customs officers request MSDS for inspection and customs clearance.
  • Staff in the entire shipping process need the MSDS to process your goods in a right and safe way.
  • Proper emergency measures could be adopted in case of packing damage and leakage, avoiding serious consequences.

MSDS sample and info covered (16 sections)

You might find MSDS formats look different, but they basically involve all the important points for inspection. In most cases, it includes 16 sections. Here is the first page for your reference.

msds page1
Click to Enlarge

16 sections of the Material Safety Data Sheet

1. Product Identification

Section 1 indicates the product name and CAS-No. For CAS-No, it’s an international ID number identifying dangerous ingredients in your goods. This information helps select shipping modes and relevant files.

2. Hazard Identification

Section 2 shows cargo labels, which are specifically required when shipping dangerous and chemical products. Labels must be marked, and this is checked by customs.

3. Composition/Information on Ingredients

Ingredients must be filled out when booking space, particularly when the content of a hazardous ingredient exceeds the relevant cut-off value, usually 0.1% or 1% depending on hazards. For example, a carcinogen must be disclosed in SDSs if its concentration is above or equal to 0.1%.

4. First Aid Measures

5. Fire Fighting Measures

6. Accidental Release Measures

7. Handling and Storage

Here workers get the necessary information about security considerations, conditions of satiety storage, and general instructions.

8. Exposure Control/Personal Protection

Here shows the precautions and methods for personal protection when manufacturing, storing, carrying, and using goods containing dangerous ingredients.

9. Physical and Chemical Properties

This section aims at the flash point. Freight forwarders need to provide the flash point when filling out DG charts.

10. Stability and Reactivity

11. Toxicology Information

12. Ecological Information

13. Disposal Considerations

14. Transportation Information

This section involves important information about UN No. and DG cargo classifications on how to transport products.

15. Regulatory Information

16. Other Information

Pay more attention to section1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 and 14, which relates to the shipping. This is why I give additional explanations about these points.

Currently, most countries, like China, the UK and all EU members, adopt 16 sections in compliance with ISO. In America, there are two standards: 16 sections regulated by ANSI or 8 sections required by OSHA. Additionally, Canada adopts 9 sections required by WHMIS.

MSDS validity

Usually, there exists a misunderstanding regarding the MSDS validity period. It is not based on the date of issue or the date of revision. Actually, there is no specific expired period. MSDS only aims at one product, unless the following happens:

1. Products checked by MSDS may have new ingredients, causing their ratio changes.

2. MSDS regulations change.

3. There is new discovery of ingredients involved. For example, the ingredient which was not considered a carcinogen is recognized as a carcinogen now and leads to a change in classification and labels.

How to get MSDS sheets?

As buyers, you can directly contact your suppliers for the MSDS certificate. The supplier will handle it for you.

In general, suppliers have to contact a professional and reliable third-party testing company to prepare one for your goods. Normally, documents of chemical ingredients and their proportion are needed for analysis. For some unique goods, it may require a sample to test in the lab. And the document always needs a week to be finished. As for the cost, it depends on the specific inspection institution and the tested product.

The End

I hope this blog helps you better understand MSDS and know how to use it. If you have any further questions, just comment below.

As a leading sourcing company in China, Jingsourcing has already assisted plenty of clients to purchase high-quality commodities at a competitive price. If you source DG cargo or general products that contain hazardous materials, we will help you prepare a series of certificates including MSDS, and ship products to your place. Feel free to contact us.

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