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04 January 2016

Do I need a Safety Data Sheet for dish washing liquids?

Hazardous substances are those that may adversely affect ones' health or the safety of persons or the environment - either immediately or over a longer term. Such substances are classified as hazardous as they contain sensory irritants which can produce temporary (or permanant) and undesirable results to the body when in contact with certain concentrations. Dish washing liquids can be considered as corrosive on the skin and cause irritation to the eyes and thus must be considered when regarding whether further information should be provided on this regular household chemical.

Previously known as a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) provides information on the properties of hazardous chemicals, on how they affect health and safety in the workplace, and on how to manage hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Information that may be displayed in a standard SDS are protective measures and controls to exposure to the chemical, medical advice, and composition of the product or substance. With the provision of such information, an SDS can minimise and even eliminate the onset of workplace incidents associated with the use of such hazardous chemicals. According to Work Health and Safety Regulations, it is mandatory for manufacturer or importer of hazardous chemical, substance, mixture, or article to prepare and provide an SDS on the chemical in order to ensure workers are aware of the potential dangers in its use and exposure in the workplace.

However, it is important to note that the Work Health and Safety Regulations also state that an SDS is not required to be prepared for any of the following chemicals[1]:

  • Chemicals in batteries while they are incorporated in plant
  • Fuel, oils or coolants in a container that is fitted to a vehicle, vessel or aircraft, mobile plant, appliance or other device, where the fuel, oils or coolants are intended for use in its operation fuel in the fuel container of a domestic or portable fuel burning appliance where the quantity of fuel does not exceed 25 kg or 25 litres
  • Hazardous chemicals in portable fire-fighting or medical equipment for use at a workplace
  • Hazardous chemicals that form part of the integrated refrigeration system of refrigerated freight containers
  • Portable liquids that are consumer products at retail premises.

From April 2016, updates were made on the Code of Practice regarding the labeling of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. For more information, visit the WorkCover website and have a read of the guide SafeWork Australia has provided here.