Are compliant safety data sheets enough to prepare your organisation for a chemical incident?

Are compliant safety data sheets enough to prepare your organisation for a chemical incident?
28 July 2020

A safety data sheet (SDS) is a legally required document under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation and contains pertinent information about a chemical product that helps assess the risks associated with it. However, should an incident occur, is the information in a SDS enough? 

Many organisations look at their compliance risk first when it comes to emergency response. While that’s certainly not wrong, it is limiting. It is vital to consider the two key reasons alongside compliance of why emergency response provision is needed:

  • To manage risk in the downstream supply chain. 
  • To reduce negative impacts on people, the environment, assets and reputation. 

NCEC was pleased to partner with UL for a recent webinar ‘How to make your safety data sheets compliant and ensure appropriate emergency response provision’. The webinar explored common SDS deficiencies, how to avoid them and why it is so important that an SDS is backed up by appropriate emergency response provision.

How do you judge your organisation’s current levels of supply chain risk mitigation and emergency response preparedness?

Delegates from hundreds of global companies attending the webinar, representing a diverse cross section of industry, participated in polling during the session.


It was very surprising to see that more than 50% of organisations perceived that their level of supply chain risk mitigation and emergency response preparedness as being not totally compliant or compliant only. For all organisations, irrespective of size, preparing for a chemical incident should consist of having:

  • A high level of legal protection. 
  • Robust emergency response infrastructure.
  • First rate support through access to highly skilled experts who can provide tailored support for each incident, by providing appropriate, actionable intervention advice – as opposed to only relying on information provided in an SDS. 

It was positive to see that most organisations recognised the benefits that can be gained though effective emergency response when aligned with a higher standard of best practice and having plans in place to mitigate the impact of an incident. 

While every organisation has different risk profiles, we would urge them to carefully assess their own risks and what they can do to mitigate them. A robust and reliable emergency response provision will not only protect your bottom line, but will protect your customers and employees making your organisation more resilient.

How can NCEC help?

NCEC operates a global 24/7 emergency response helpline service all year round through a network of international telephone numbers and local language speakers. Our helpline is aligned with the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) Guidelines for Level 1 Chemical Emergency Response, and the Guiding Principles of Responsible Care® and corporate social responsibility. Using our emergency number on SDSs provides a service that goes above and beyond just compliance.

If you have any questions on how you can go beyond simply complying or have any questions related to emergency response provision, please feel free to contact us through the form at the side of this page or email us at [email protected].