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Safety Data Sheets according to ANSI Z.400-1

Every manufacturer or distributor of dangerous substances and mixtures is obliged to provide Safety Data Sheets including the list of residual risks without being requested and free of charge. While the REACH regulation, which is regularly updated, lays down the most important normative provisions regarding  the design of safety instructions and Safety Data Sheets in Europe, the four strongest trading countries in North and South America have their own hazardous substances legislations:

• USA: 29 CFR 1910.1200 (OSHA HazCom 2012)

• Canada: WHMIS/HPA

• Mexico: NOM-018-STPS-2015

• Brazil: NBR 14725: 2014

What they all have in common is that they prescribe much less exact formats than the European REACH. A common denominator for an American Safety Data Sheet format is the ANSI Z400.1 standard. Its content, as REACH in Europe, must be adapted to national regulations in the U.S.

What is ANSI Z.400-1?

The abbreviation "ANSI" stands for the "American National Standards Institute" - the American agency for industrialprocedure standards. The German equivalent is the German Institute for Standardization (DIN). In both cases, the abbreviation of the norm-giving agency is also used (including a number sequence ) as the name of a standard. ANSI Z.400-1, for instance, relates to the preparation of Safety Data Sheets and labels for hazardous chemicals. It contains basic information on the design of these documents for international use. The declared goal is to increase the competitiveness of chemical industry.


Currently, you will find both the term "Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)" as well as "Safety Data Sheet (SDS)" in America. Why? The former ANSI standard and the laws it relies upon used "MSDS". With the adaptation of GHS to the national regulations, this changes to using the GHS term "SDS". The latest issue of ANSI Z400.1 of 2010 has completed this change already.

Regulatory Limitations of ANSI Z400.

For some chemical products application-specific regulatory standards apply in the USA, which are not covered by the OSHA HCS hazardous substances legislation. This may result in different requirements when creating Safety Data Sheets. In general there are:

• Consumer products regulated by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA).

• Medical products for which the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) is responsible.

• Pesticides as the major issue of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

• Transport materials monitored by the Department of Transportation (DOT) Hazardous Materials Regulations.

• Laboratory chemicals regulated by 29 CFR 1910.1450, "OSHA Laboratory Standard".

An illustrative example of the regulatory limits of ANSI Z400.1 are pharmaceutical companies that produce aspirin. These are not obliged to provide Safety Data Sheets to the consumers. The competent authority in this case is the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). Other regulations, however, apply to the production process. As employees may be exposed the aspirin powder during production, companies are required to provide appropriate Safety Data Sheets.