Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) Translations

Chemical manufacturers and importers need to get a translation of the material safety data sheet for each chemical they want to import and trade in the target country. That’s to say the material safety data sheets shall be in the local language as per the law and regulation of any country and per the international safety standards.  Distributors are also in charge of assuring that the retail clients receive a copy of the MSDS for each hazardous chemical which they put on sale in the target country.  The information received from the suppliers by the employers are also important and these documents have to be in the local language as well.

Considering the document type, there is no standard for the material safety data sheet document format, though there are significant data requirements regarding the input of these documents.  Occupational Health and Safety Administration of USA issues a non-mandatory format as a sample document to be used as a reference by the manufacturers and importers to conform to the rules and regulations for MSDS.  This is defined per the American law and regulations and the MSDS document shall be written in English in the USA whereas these documents shall be in the language of the countries where they want trade these products. For instance, if you have an objective to trade chemical goods in Turkey manufactured outside the country, you need to have your documentation in Turkish language, and likewise it should be in the other countries’ language, too. When the clients purchase a chemical materials, the manufacturers’ distributors need to deliver these goods along with a data sheet which includes all of the necessary information in the target language under the law and regulations. Normally, the materials are shipped with these documents, however if the manufacturer fail to ship them without the translation of these documents or if they ship hazardous chemicals with an MSDS including missing data or clearly inadequate data, the most probable thing is that your goods will wait at the customs of the target of the target country for a while which puts a burden either on the cost and time.

The international laws defines the role of the MSDSs clearly that they shall provide comprehensive information on each hazardous chemical, including its potential hazardous impacts, physical and chemical features and preventive measures against accidents and injuries. This data is highly important for the entities from the shipper to the storage companies and more importantly the employers while developing the protective plans and programs, and also the employees significantly as they will be exposed to those materials more often.  At this point the translation of the MSDSs is vital at each point to make the users aware of the hazards of the materials stored in the containers. Also, if the material safety data sheets are written with the chemical terminology of the target language, the employers may develop training programs to make their employees familiar with the data. A translation of the glossary of MSDS terms will be a great assistance in this respect.   Such translated documentation will help the employers develop their own preventive action plans with a close consideration to the hazardous effects and create the required awareness at their facilities.

MSDSs must be readily available at all workers while they are at work at their work areas and English documents or documents written in the source language will not be effective. And teaching English or the source language to all employees may take too long time. Therefore, it’s more appropriate to provide a copy of the MSDS in the target language which can be understood by all people in the target country.  When safety data sheets and associated document are written in the target language, it will also make the safety organization of the employers easier; for instance, while designating a place for the storage or designating persons with the right certifications.  Emergency arrangements can be designated well if the nature of the products are in the target language, this includes means of communication to the way of the emergency, too.

Whether you get your MSDSs translated or not, the compliance officers at the customs will check everything closely and crucially they will check the translation of the MSDS documents and the transfer of the shipped materials may banned if the translation of these documents are not attached to your pallets or reported to the customs office before the materials are shipped. So the manufacturers, producing and shipping chemicals need to ship these materials with the right information and language. Many companies find it more appropriate to include on their purchase order the name of their company and designated person for Safety management in their company to communicate to receive MSDSs separately while it should be attached to the shipped pallets as well.