Fact Sheet 7: Identifying Hazardous Substances

Hazardous substances include chemicals, asbestos, dangerous gasses, and other substances that have the potential to cause harm.

EXAMPLE: Tobacco smoke is a hazardous substance, which has many well-documented health risks.

Under the Sections 150 and 155 of the OHS Regs manufacturers and suppliers have a responsibility to prepare and provide workplaces with information about substances they are supplying. This report is known as a material safety data sheet (MSDS).

Manufacturers must identify hazardous substances (Section 149) and suppliers must label hazardous substances (Section 156)

Material safety data sheets must:

  • Clearly identify each hazardous substance contained in a product

EXAMPLE: A cleaning product may have three different hazardous substances, each carrying a range of different health risks. An MSDS would have to give details about each of these ingredients and all their health risks.

  • Say how the product should be used
  • Say what the chemical and physical properties of the substances are
  • Give information about each of the products ingredients, to the extent that is required by law
  • Any relevant hazard information

EXAMPLE: The MSDS must clearly state all the known health effects from a product’s ingredients, including any ability to cause deformity, respiratory conditions or aggravate some people’s allergies.

  • Information concerning the precautions to be followed to make sure a substance is being used safely
  • Contact details of the manufacturer

This fact sheet can be downloaded as a Word document at the bottom of this page and printed out for distribution. Please note the download process can take up to five minutes on some computers


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