Material Safety Data Sheet

Ships carrying oil as cargo or  bunkers fall under Marpol Annex I. They need to carry a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) - also called Safety Data Sheet (SDS) - on board. The MSDS provides the crew with information on the health and environmental effects of the harmful substances. The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) checks whether the ships has an MSDS on board.

An MSDS is compiled by the manufacturer of the product. If bunkers are involved, the bunkering company may provide the MSDS. The MSDS is handed out to the crew of the seagoing vessel by an employee of the terminal or bunker ship. This is done before they start loading or bunkering the oil.

Information on the MSDS

Resolution MSC.286(86) - Recommendations for Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) specifies what information the MSDS must provide. It states:

  1. Which substance is involved
  2. The hazards
  3. The composition of the substance
  4. First aid measures
  5. Fire-fighting information
  6. Accidental release measures
  7. Handling and storage
  8. Exposure and personal protection
  9. Physical and chemical properties
  10. Stability and reactivity
  11. Toxicity
  12. Ecological effects
  13. Disposal
  14. Transport
  15. Regulations
  16. Other useful information

The MSDS for the IBC Code also contains the following additional information:

  1. Physical condition, colour, etc.
  2. Odour
  3. Pour point
  4. Boiling point
  5. Flash point
  6. Flammability limits
  7. Vapour pressure
  8. Vapour density
  9. Density and similar mass
  10. Auto-ignition temperature
  11. Kinematic viscosity
  12. A statement on persistent and non-persistent oil.


The analysis of substances need not be an exact analysis of the batch delivered. However, it must be representative of the product delivered. The conditions are still to be defined by the IMO.