Safety data sheet prior to the analysis

Year of publication: 2022

Before analysing a lubricant that we sent you for the first time, you asked us for a safety data sheet. Why could that be?

The analysis values and therefore the composition of most of the lubricants and service products we have examined are stored in the OELCHECK database. However, if we receive samples without a product designation or the area of application specified, for example, we must either request a clean oil sample or a product description with a safety data sheet (SDS) before carrying out analysis. This is the only way for us to gather essential information about the properties of the various substances contained in a lubricant or service product. As an example, an SDS provides information about potential hazards or incompatibilities that may arise from the product described. In the lab, an SDS increases the safety of our staff, the constant availability of our devices and the accuracy of the values determined.

Table of contents

  1. Logistics in the lab
  2. SDS – A packaging insert for greater safety
  3. Information is king

Logistics in the lab

Up to 2,000 samples arrive at our laboratory in Brannenburg for testing on a daily basis. To help us cope with that sizeable number, we have installed our very own logistics system. Each sample we receive comes with its very own lab number or barcode, which guides the sample safely to the designated test stations. The different product types are separated from each other right from the start to avoid damage to laboratory equipment and interruptions to the routine process.

SDS – A packaging insert for greater safety

A wide variety of samples have a flawless journey through our well-organised lab. However, certain 'outliers' repeatedly cause disruptions to the process. These are usually samples that haven't been clearly declared or even samples whose content is unknown.

These samples are sorted as soon as possible. Prior to running the analysis, we request additional information from our customers, and this information usually includes the safety data sheets for the products concerned. The safety data sheets have a uniform structure and provide information on the following:

  • Potential hazards, such as aspiration hazards, skin irritation or flammability
  • The composition/information regarding the components pursuant to REACH
  • The physical and chemical properties
  • Stability and reactivity, such as incompatibilities with certain materials or any inert behaviour (product doesn't react with solvents, etc.)

Information is king

The following examples show how important it is to know exactly what is contained within an OELCHECK sample container:

  • A heat transfer oil arrives at our laboratory and is only declared as such on the sample information form. Information about the manufacturer, product name and viscosity is missing. However, if this oil contains silicone and we load it into the testing equipment, the equipment will be contaminated. The instruments must then be thoroughly cleaned and as such, are unable to analyse the following samples. If the equipment is not cleaned, parts of the extremely penetrating silicone oil will remain in the device and skew the results of any samples examined subsequently.
  • If a sample vessel allegedly contains a coolant, but in reality contains an industrial cleaner, it represents a risk to our high-performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC). Unlike gas chromatography, which is a very good separation method for vaporisable substances, HPLC can also be used to analyse non-volatile substances. In the OELCHECK laboratory, we use it to identify differences in the molecular composition of additives in coolants. However, if a cleaner is added to the HPLC instead of a coolant, the unit can be severely damaged. Further investigations must be carried out and the machine will have to be repaired at an extremely high cost.

These examples illustrate just how important it is to provide accurate information about the samples you send in. Finally, if we discover something that's not familiar to us in the large number of arrivals to the OELCHECK lab, we will usually request a safety data sheet (and potentially a clean sample, too).


OELCHECKER Summer 2022, page 13