Industry Basics

24 February 2023 • 6 min read

Material Safety Data Sheet

Raghav Sand

To ensure safety of human health and the environment, the various dangers associated with chemicals must be adequately communicated to all stakeholders.

People often use chemicals to extend and enhance their quality of life all over the world. Utilizing certain chemicals has benefits, but there is also a potential that they could have unfavourable effects on humans or the environment. A carrier is required to move a variety of cargo, such as oil, chemicals, and gaseous freight. Both the health of seafarers and the marine ecosystem are at risk from these commodities.

The ship not only carries cargo but also a variety of chemicals and solutions that are used for several maritime duties. For such items as well as chemicals transported onboard that are utilised for maintenance, a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is provided.


Purpose of MSDS

To protect the marine environment and sailors, MSDS are kept on board. The MSDS offers practical and understandable details about the goods brought on board, either as cargo or for operational needs.

It is required to complete MSDSs for each hazardous material brought on board, together with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), to ensure that in the event of an emergency, the proper protocols and prompt action can be followed.

Three general categories can be used to group the numerous chemical risks:

  1. Physical dangers include explosives, flammable solids, liquids, and gases, as well as self-oxidizing and pyrophoric liquids and solids, etc.
  2. Health risks such acute oral or dermal toxicity, skin corrosion or irritation, severe eye damage or skin sensitization, specific target organ toxicity, germ cell mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity, aspiration danger, poisonous, infectious, radioactive, etc.
  3. Environmental risks including those that are extremely poisonous, hazardous, or damaging to aquatic life, have a negative effect on the ozone layer, etc.


What is MSDS and Who Prepares It?

A MSDS is a document created by the company that makes or supplies the chemical and contains details on the material's physical and chemical characteristics, potential risks, and safe handling procedures. It also provides details on how to handle emergencies and provide storage, handling, and usage instructions for the materials' dangers.

The content and structure of Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are outlined in Annexure 4 of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals' (UN GHS) revised Purple Book. Since it is not a binding regulation of the UN, countries are required to promulgate their own regulations.

  • United States of America: The Hazard Communication Regulation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the US requires MSDSs. The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board examines MSDSs.
  • Canada: Under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System programme, the Hazardous Product Act, Part II and the Controlled Products Regulations require MSDSs (WHMIS).
  • Europe: EU regulations enacted by Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 (CLP) through an amended Annexure II of REACH require MSDS there.
  • India: In India, Schedule 9 of the "The Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rule, 1989" lists nine sections that are included in MSDS.



A supporting document for your dangerous goods (DG) shipment is called MSDS. To demonstrate that your cargo does not qualify as DG, it provides comprehensive information on the contents of your shipment along with a technical breakdown of the parts or materials in your product.

There are restrictions, regulations, and potential additional fees associated with shipping DG. Therefore, if the contents of your shipments could be misinterpreted, regarded as, or linked to harmful items, it is crucial for you to generate an MSDS.

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