The Dutch abbreviation VIB means veiligheidsinformatieblad (Safety Information Sheet). MSDS is the English equivalent. MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheet. Sometimes the abbreviation SDS is also used. A material safety data sheet has a fixed structure and consists of 16 sections and 46 subsections. Below you can read about the mandatory contents of a material safety data sheet.

The supplier of a dangerous substance is obliged to supply an MSDS with the first delivery. If the supplier modifies the MSDS, they must send the modified MSDS with the next order. If you would like to have another MSDS at a later date, you can always request it from the supplier. Suppliers often have a website with safety information about their products.

The UMCs have their own national database with more than 6,000 substances. The sheets in the UMC database are validated material safety data sheets and workplace instruction cards. The database can be accessed via the intranet at every UMC. No login code or password is required.

Below is the first page of the formaldehyde safety data sheet as an example.

1. Identification of the substances or mixture

Product identification

The name used must be the same as the name on the label and comply with Annex VI to Directive 67/548/EEC or Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008.

Relevant identified use of the substance or mixture

This states, insofar as known, the purpose the substance or preparation is used for. It also gives a brief description of what the substance or mixture actually does, for example a flame retardant or an antioxidant.

Details concerning the supplier of the material safety data sheet

This section states the identity of the person responsible for placing the substance or mixture on the market in the Community. This is the manufacturer, importer or distributor. This section also states the full address, telephone number and e-mail address of the competent person responsible for the material safety data sheet

Emergency telephone number

In the event of an emergency, this telephone number of the company and/or the competent official advisory body can be used.

2. Hazard identification

This section states the classification of the substance or mixture. If the substance or mixture is classified according to the GHS/CLP, this section will state: Classification according to Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008. If the substance or preparation has been classified according to the old system, it will say: Classification according to Directive 67/548/EEC or 1999/45/EC. It also states clearly and concisely which hazards for people and the environment are associated with the substance or preparation.

Classification of the substance or mixture
Labelling elements
Other hazards

3. Composition and information about ingredients

Section 2 lists the hazards of the substance or preparation. This section outlines the hazards of the individual ingredients of the preparation. This may be done in a tabular form with the ingredients, the amount (in % or concentration), the CAS number and the H phrases.


4. First-aid measures

The first aid measures are described here. If immediate medical attention is required, this will be at the top of the list. The information is broken down into different sections according to the different ways of exposure: 

  • eye contact
  • skin contact
  • swallowed
  • inhaled

5. Firefighting measures

Reference is made here to the instructions for fighting a fire caused by the substance or preparation or occurring in its vicinity. This section also lists:

  • the appropriate extinguishing agents 
  • the extinguishing agents which, for safety reasons, must not be used
  • special exposure hazards caused by the substance or preparation itself, combustion products or released gases 
  • special protective equipment for firefighters.

6. Measures in the event of accidental release of the substance or mixture

This section contains the (precautionary) measures in the event of accidental release of the substance or preparation. How to protect yourself, how to capture, neutralise or absorb the product, and how to protect the environment.

7. Handling and storage

This section contains recommendations for safe handling, storage and use for people and the environment. What technical measures are needed, such as local or general ventilation. To prevent aerosol formation, dust formation and fire, the product must be stored separately.

8. Exposure controls/personal protection

Exposure limits

This section lists the occupational exposure limits. These values apply to the Member State in which the substance or preparation is placed on the market.

Exposure controls

The measures to be taken to control exposure for people and the environment are listed in this section. How to protect the respiratory tract, which gloves are suitable with which breakthrough time, use of type of eye protection and any specific hygiene measures.

9. Physical and chemical properties

This section states all relevant physical and chemical properties of the substance or preparation

General information

Appearance, colour, solid, liquid or gas and smell

Physical properties

  • Boiling point or boiling range
  • Flashpoint
  • Flammability (solid, gas)
  • Explosion hazard, explosion limits, oxidising properties
  • Vapour pressure
  • Relative density
  • Solubility
  • Water solubility
  • Vapour density
  • Evaporation rate

Other information

10. Stability and reactivity

This section states whether the substance is stable, with which substances the product can react dangerously and whether the reaction products can present danger to people or the environment.

11. Toxicological information

Here you can find toxicological information. What are the acute health effects after exposure (sensitisation, narcosis). Which effects may occur in the longer term (CMR effects, cancer, fertility). This section also contains the LD50 or LC50 for gases.

12. Ecological information

This section describes the potential effects of the substance if it is released into the environment. What aquatic effects are to be expected, can the substance enter groundwater or the food chain and is the substance degradable.

13. Disposal instructions

How can you dispose of the product, its residue or its waste safely for people and the environment. If disposal presents any danger, what measures must be taken. Which method is appropriate for disposal: incineration, recycling, dumping, etc.

14. Transport information

The transport of dangerous substances is subject to ADR (transport by land), IMDG (sea), RID (rail) and ICAO/IATA (air). Here you will find relevant information about, for example:

  • UN number
  • classification
  • labelling
  • packaging requirements

15. Regulatory information

This section contains the health, safety and environmental information that is stated on the label in accordance with Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC. It comprises:

  • H phrases (formerly R phrases)
  • P phrases (formerly S phrases)
  • Hazard symbols (GHS)
  • Deviating country-specific requirements

16. Other information

The full text of all R phrases listed in sections 2 and 3 of the MSDS must be provided in this section.

It states, among other things, which competent authority has drawn up the MSDS.