Last reviewed 21 June 2022

In this feature article, Caroline Raine continues to discuss how the Navigate-Chemicals Database can be used as an aid when authoring Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). This article follows on from How to use the Navigate-Chemicals Database to complete an SDS, updated — Part 1.


Part one of this article discussed sections 2, 3, 9, 11, 12 and 14 of the SDS. This article will discuss the remaining sections. Again, information will be provided on what data should be included in each section, how that information may be retrieved from Navigate-Chemicals, and where the data comes from.

In general, it should be noted that Croner’s data is substance-specific, although data may be found for some mixtures (such as flammable adhesives). For mixtures, therefore, it will normally be necessary to consider the data for the constituent substances and use or adapt it appropriately.

Section 1: Identification

Much of the information required to be included within section 1 of an SDS is company-specific, so this will need to be sourced in-house. Data required includes:

  • the uses of the substance or mixture foreseen by the supplier

  • any uses that are advised against

  • identification of the person responsible for placing the material on the market

  • full address and telephone number for the person responsible

  • email address

  • emergency telephone number.

It should be noted that there is no requirement for the emergency telephone number provided to be usable at all times, though the hours of operation should be indicated.

The Navigate-Chemicals Database contains information on well-known uses for substances, which may be of assistance.

When identifying any uses that are advised against, note should be taken of any REACH restrictions that may be identified against specific constituents. For instance, for a spray paint containing trace amounts of toluene, checking toluene in the database will show that this substance is subject to a REACH restriction on marketing and use. This will show that if the toluene is present at greater than 0.1% the product must not be supplied or used by the general public; this needs to be identified in section 1 of the SDS.

The Unique Formula Identifier (UFI) is to be included in Section 1 of the safety data sheet. The UFI is an alpha-numeric 16-character code that is generated from the company’s VAT number and an internal code that has been allocated to the product. There are provisions in place if a supplier is not registered for VAT and there is no VAT number. This code must then be placed on the product label and becomes part of the notification to the poison centre.

Section 4: First aid measures

This section of the SDS should provide enough information to enable basic first aid to be provided in the event of exposure. In particular, it should specify what medical attention is needed in the first instance. The information must be brief and easy to understand so that first aid can be administered quickly and effectively. An indication of whether professional assistance by a doctor is needed or advisable and a description of the expected symptoms of exposure (both acute and delayed) to the product should be provided.

There are four possible routes of entry by which someone can be exposed to chemicals. The information should be subdivided and information given on each route of exposure, namely:

  • inhalation

  • skin contact

  • eye contact

  • ingestion.

Carriage and Handling and Emergency Response links are provided within the database which, once selected, open another page. The Emergency Response link gives information from the Emergency Response Guide (ERG), including the chart number from the ERG, and information on potential health hazards and first aid actions to be taken.

The Exposure and Health Effects link provides the relevant chart contained within Croner’s First Aid Guide; each chart provides information on the expected symptoms and actions to take in the event of skin or eye contact, ingestion or inhalation.

Section 5: Fire-fighting measures

Section 5 of the SDS should provide advice on the extinguishing materials to use in the event of a fire. In general, water, foam, dry powder and carbon dioxide are the extinguishers of choice, although in some instances alcohol resistant foam may be recommended, and halon might occasionally be specified. It should be noted, however, that halon fire extinguishers are now banned, with the exception of some specialised applications.

Within the SDS, information must be presented on:

  • suitable extinguishing media

  • unsuitable extinguishing media

  • special hazards from both the product itself and its combustion products

  • special protective equipment

  • advice for fire fighters.

Within the Emergency Response section of the database entry, information is provided on fires and explosions. This gives the potential hazards, more detailed information on small and large fires and fires involving tanks or car/trailer loads. Detailed information on the actions to take is summarised, alongside recommendations for the appropriate extinguishers to use.

Should the substance (or a principal constituent of a mixture) have a low flash point this should be mentioned, as should information on the substance’s density. Many vapours are heavier than air and so will spread along the ground, collecting in low or confined areas such as sewers, basements and tanks. Information on potential hazards is vital and should be included in the SDS.

Section 6: Accidental release measures

Section 6 of the SDS provides information to the user in the event of a spillage. Spills can occur in a number of situations, including during transport, loading, unloading, and storage, as well as while using the product.

Generally, there are two levels of release: small spills and large spills.

  • Small spills tend to be local spills and leaks involving small amounts that are easily contained and require limited response measures, detailed in an appropriate risk assessment.

  • Large spills tend to be bulk releases that require activation of a pre-planned clean-up operation that may involve specialist services.

Section 6 must provide details of personal precautions, protective equipment and emergency procedures, along with any environmental precautions that must be taken. Methods for containment and clean-up of spillages/releases should be included along with reference to other sections of the SDS that are relevant in the event of a release.

In the event of a spillage it is important to protect people, the environment and property in that order. Section 6 will refer to section 4 for information on how to help any casualties, and will refer to section 5 in the event of a fire. Other relevant sections include sections 2, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 13.

The Emergency Response section in the database provides detailed information on spills and leaks along with information on small or large spills. The database gives advice on how to deal with the spill, such as which absorbents to use, as well as helpful general information.

The Exposure and Health Effects section provides a link to the relevant chart contained within the Emergency Spillage Guide (ERG). Each chart provides information on the first actions to be taken in the event of an accidental release and gives more detailed advice on how to deal with small and large spills, the correct PPE to wear and how to correctly dispose of any hazardous waste. Again, this information can be obtained via the Environmental Effects link.

Section 8: Exposure controls/personal protection

This section of the SDS requires control parameters and exposure controls to be stated, enabling the user to determine the limits of exposure and implement controls to keep exposure within those limits.

Exposure limit values for the Member State where the substance or preparation is placed on the market should be listed and occupational exposure controls should be given. The full range of specific risk management measures to be taken during use should be clearly identified. Exposure controls should include:

  • respiratory protection

  • hand protection

  • eye protection

  • skin protection.

All should make reference to appropriate CEN standards.

Exposure limits applicable to the United Kingdom are presented within the Exposure and Health Effects tab. Data can be found on Workplace Exposure Limits and EU Indicative Occupational Exposure Limits Values. In addition, where applicable, the Biological monitoring guidance value is stated.

The data comes from two sources which are EH40/2005: Workplace exposure limits and the consolidated European list of EU Indicative Occupational Exposure Limit Values.

Section 10: Stability and reactivity

Within section 10 of the SDS, the following information should be provided:

  • reactivity

  • chemical stability

  • possibility of hazardous reactions

  • conditions to avoid

  • incompatible materials

  • hazardous decomposition products.

Data for this section of the SDS can be sourced from several areas within the database. The Emergency Response section provides information on hazardous decomposition products and the Classification and Labelling section can often provide information on potential reactions and incompatible materials. Often, the hazard or precautionary statements can give an indication of conditions to avoid or incompatible materials.

Section 13: Disposal considerations

The SDS should contain this information if the disposal of a substance or preparation presents a danger. In this case, a description of the residues and information on safe handling should be provided. Appropriate methods of disposal of both the material and the packaging should be stated, along with community/regional provisions and waste treatment methods.

Disposal considerations can be found in Croner’s Emergency Spillage Guide, accessible from the “Reference articles” section on the Navigate-Chemicals homepage.

Section 15: Regulatory information

The purpose of this section is to list national laws implementing provisions and other national measures that may be relevant. Safety, health and environmental legislation specific for the substance or mixture should be listed. In addition to specific legislation, it should be stated if there is a chemical safety assessment for the product.

It may be that the product is subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002 (COSHH) Statutory Instrument (as amended) and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). Navigate-Chemicals features detailed topics on both COSHH and DSEAR.

Section 16: Other information

Section 16 is the last section of the SDS and should contain any other information that the supplier has assessed as being important for the health and safety of the user. This may include:

  • a list of all relevant Hazard and Precautionary statements, written out in full (if not given in full earlier)

  • training advice

  • further information. such as written references/technical contact points

  • sources of key data

  • whether the SDS is a revised version (if so, clearly indicate the changes).

The Hazard statements are easily accessible in the Classification and Labelling section. If the SDS has been authored with the aid of Navigate-Chemicals a reference should be added in section 16, or it may be that it can be listed as a source of further information.

Future improvements

The Navigate-Chemicals database contains over 110,000 substances and dangerous goods records. The database is reviewed and updated monthly, and each update means that new substances are added and existing data is revised as applicable. Croner is constantly updating and improving the information and we would welcome any suggestions for future improvements.


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