Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Requirements for Canada and the United States – Are You Required to Update Your SDS?

 In SDS: Safety Data Sheets

By: Kirsten Alcock, Manager of Product Safety, email

This is a question we hear from the majority of my clients – do I need to update my SDS if it’s older than three years? Under the older Controlled Products Regulations (CPR) in Canada, a SDS was REQUIRED to be updated every 3 years regardless if any changes were required. The SDS date needed to be within 3 years. What are we expected to do now? There is misleading information out there about what one should do with their SDSs, so let’s shed some light on this topic so you can make a better-informed decision on whether you will go ahead with a renewal or not. I will focus on mostly Canada but the same decisions need to be made for your US SDSs as well. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also requires updates to SDSs when new information exists.

When the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) regulations came into effect here in Canada, the three-year renewal period was abolished FEDERALLY. As I have discussed in previous blogs, the three-year renewal remains in effect in some provinces. This means that you do indeed need to update your SDS if you are selling to these provinces. Within the US, the 3-year renewal was never required but that did not mean you weren’t required to update your SDS when new information was available.

The Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR) states in section 5.12 (1) the definition of significant new data. Significant new data is that which changes the hazard classification of the product as a whole. If significant new data comes about for an ingredient within your product or for the product as a whole, there is a requirement to update your SDS. The sale of a hazardous product for which new significant data becomes available MUST be updated within 90 days. You will be in VIOLATION of the law if you do not update your SDS. But how do you know if new data exists without looking into each individual component within your product? How do you know your SDS is still compliant if YOU did not author it yourself and you don’t own an authoring system to help you determine this? Is there a new UN number you should be using for shipping that did not exist three years ago? Are there any new Occupational Exposure Limits available that should be provided on your SDS? Is there new LD50/LC50 information that can change the overall toxicity classification for your product? The answer to this is likely YES!

If you are not the individual authoring your SDSs, this is difficult to determine. It is not something that you can do quickly. New data is constantly becoming available that has the potential to impact your overall classification. At Dell Tech, we pride ourselves on keeping the information on our raw materials up-to-date. New information that can impact a classification can include but is not be limited to, new toxicity LD50/LC50 data which can have a significant impact on your overall classification. Without doing a recalculation of the product toxicity, your product may not have the correct toxicity class for GHS. New information can also include irritation studies that were not available in the past. Perhaps there is new information indicating that a particular chemical is no longer considered irritating to the eyes, skin, or respiratory tract. I came across this TODAY! In the past, the chemical was listed as corrosive to the eyes and skin. Four years later, there is information indicating otherwise. I was able to change the GHS Classification for my client to one that was considered much less hazardous. When there was the switch from the old CPR to the new HPR, there were many instances where a product went from hazardous to non-hazardous based on the new criteria. Some companies may have assumed that a product that was an irritant in the past was an irritant with the new regulations and this is simply not the case.

Where you are getting this data is the biggest part of the issue. Are you depending solely on the authoring software? Most software systems are not updated consistently and this puts you at risk of non-compliance. New information is constantly becoming available from data sources such as the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Health Canada provided some classification information through their Hazardous Substance Assessments (HSA). Were you aware of this list? Many chemicals are on specific lists that can impact your classification such as those of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). Is a chemical now considered carcinogenic but was not in the past? These lists are not static and change. If a product is now considered a carcinogen, your SDS and label must reflect this change. You are required by law to warn of this on your SDS and label.

Without delving into your product formulation, there is no way for you to know if a classification change is required. You could be putting your company at risk with Health Canada and OSHA if you are not reviewing your formulations consistently, thereby you would be in VIOLATION of the law. At Dell Tech, we continue to advise our clients when their SDS is three years old to help with your compliance requirements. We also update you throughout the three-year period if there is a significant change in classification for specific chemicals such as when the Hazardous Substance Assessments were issued. Ultimately, however, YOUR COMPANY IS RESPONSIBLE for the Safety Data Sheet you are providing your clients.

If you would like further information on your safety data sheet requirements or are interested in updating your existing documents to be in compliance with the HPR or OSHA standards, please contact us. We’d be happy to help you with the process.

Dell Tech
Kirsten Alcock, B.Sc. (Hons) 
Manager, Product Safety Group

Dell Tech has provided professional, confidential consulting services to the chemical specialty

industry in Canada, the USA, Europe, and Asia for the last 40 years.

Contact us today for more information.

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