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Translation of safety data sheets

translation of safety data sheets

The translation of safety data sheets concerns many businesses.

What is a safety data sheet?

A safety data sheet (SDS) is a document that provides information about the composition, health and environmental hazards, methods for spill clean-up and safe handling of a chemical, and other data necessary for ensuring the safe use of the chemical throughout the supply chain. Safety data sheets are primarily intended for professional use, not for the general consumer. An employer must not require workers to handle hazardous chemicals without first making a safety data sheet available to them.

The initial compilation and contents of a safety data sheet are the responsibility of the manufacturer or importer of the chemical; however, all parties further down the supply chain are also required to verify its accuracy, supplement it, adapt it for their customers and forward it to them. This means that each SDS supplier is responsible for the safety data sheet they have supplied.

What are the legal bases and general requirements for safety data sheets?

The primary legislation governing safety data sheets within the European Union are the REACH regulations of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals, which established European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), and the CLP regulations on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures.

A safety data sheet must be compiled with for each substance or mixture classified as hazardous, and, at the request of the recipient, also for substances or mixtures which contain certain substances in a concentration above a set value. A safety data sheet must be supplied no later than the date of first delivery of the substance or mixture and the supplier may not charge the recipient for the safety data sheet.

Suppliers are required to update safety data sheets as soon as new information on hazards related to the substance or mixtures becomes available, and on the grant or refusal of an authorisation or the imposition of a restriction. SDS updates must also be provided free of charge and made available to all recipients to whom the substance or mixture has been supplied within the preceding 12 months.

If a substance is registered in quantities of 10 tonnes or more and classified as hazardous or as a PBT (persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic) or vPvB (very persistent and very bioaccumulative) substance, the supplier must submit an extended safety data sheet (eSDS). This requires preparing exposure scenarios (ES) for the relevant areas of use, which must be placed in the annex to the safety data sheet.

What are the language requirements for safety data sheets?

A safety data sheet must be provided in the official language of the target country, which means that in order to place a chemical on the Estonian market, the manufacturer or importer has to submit the safety data sheet to the recipient in the Estonian language. To this end, the chemical supplier must organise the translation of the safety data sheet, where necessary. In European Union member states with several official languages, the safety data sheet must generally be supplied in all official languages (for example, in Finland both in Finnish and Swedish), with a few exceptions.

Attached exposure scenarios are considered to be an integral part of the safety data sheet and are subject to the same translation requirements. This means that any exposure scenarios must also be in the official language(s) of the target country.

The REACH regulations also stipulate that the language used in the safety data sheet has to be simple, clear and precise, avoiding jargon, acronyms and abbreviations (where impossible, acronyms and abbreviations should be explained in the last section of the safety data sheet). The use of statements about the safety of the substance or mixture or statements that are inconsistent with its classification is also forbidden.

What should you consider when organising the translation of an SDS?

The REACH regulations are considered to be the strictest law on chemical safety in the world. REACH lays down both the cases in which the compilation of a safety data sheet is necessary as well as its mandatory structure and content, and places a number of obligations and requirements on chemical manufacturers and suppliers.

The European Chemicals Agency has published a guide for the compilation of safety data sheets, wherein it concedes that a single person generally does not have sufficient knowledge of all the fields covered by an SDS, which is why, where necessary, other competent sources should be utilised when compiling an SDS. Despite this, safety data sheets are often translated by people with no special knowledge.

Since the supplier of an SDS is also responsible for its content, it is best to entrust the translation of your safety data sheets to experts, who do not merely translate the text, but are also capable of detecting potential substantive gaps and inconsistencies. Choosing an experienced and dedicated translation agency allows you to avoid unpleasant surprises later on and enables you to ensure that the quality of the translation is never below your expectations and needs.

Why choose Transly?

Transly Translation Agency has trained translators and extensive experience in translating safety data sheets. We always keep up to date with the latest relevant legislation and official terminology, in order to ensure the correctness, clarity and accuracy of your safety data sheet translations. We work with passion and a sense of responsibility.

We are familiar with the mandatory SDS structure as well as the linguistic and translation conventions of the field. Adherance to these is neccessary in order to ensure that all SDS users from chemical handlers to firefighters and medical workers receive the necessary information as quickly and clearly as possible, in the manner in which they are accustomed to. This helps avoid situations where the reader has to stop to consider whether information is worded unconventionally for a reason or simply because the translator is inexperienced, and allows you to rest assured that everything is done right the first time.

In addition, we have the necessary translation software and technical and organisational means to ensure that your translations are consistent in both language and form and always ready by the agreed upon time. This also allows us to offer a discount on repeated segments in texts, which means that any subsequent safety data sheet translations, including updates and amendments, are considerably cheaper for you.

If your translation needs are not just limited to safety data sheets, there is no need to worry either, because Transly Translation Agency has skilled translators in many fields and languages. We translate technical, legal, IT and marketing texts, and much more besides. Where possible, we will also happily meet any special requests you may have – just send us an enquiry!

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