This is where you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about the GESTIS Substance Database.
The questions have been divided into seven thematic groups:
|I. General questions
1. What is the GESTIS Substance Database, and what information does it contain?
The GESTIS Substance Database is a web-based data pool with details on approx. 8,000 chemical substances. It is primarily used by accident insurance institutions and their member companies for preventive measures when handling hazardous substances in the workplace. The GESTIS Substance Database is available to the general public and can be used by anyone free of charge. Its main focus is on routes of exposure and the effects of hazardous substances on humans, technical protective measures including fire protection, storage and disposal, organisational and personal protective equipment, procedures in case of emergency including first aid, physical and chemical data, hazardous chemical reactions as well as classification, labelling, legal provisions and regulations.
The information given in the GESTIS Substance Database is of great practical relevance, compliant with regulations and is continually updated. It provides detailed, generally comprehensible information on occupational health.
2. Does the GESTIS Substance Database also contain information on mixtures of substances?
NO. Usually, the GESTIS Substance Database only has information on pure substances.
3. Is it necessary to register before using the GESTIS Substance Database?
NO. The GESTIS Substance Database can be used without registration.
4. What does the ZVG number mean?
The ZVG number is the unique identifier of a GESTIS substance data sheet and has 4-6 digits.
It also forms part of the syntax in the link to a specific data sheet. A table (XLSX, 1.0 MB) listing all substance names, ZVG numbers, CAS numbers, EC numbers and INDEX numbers can be downloaded from the page Tips and Tricks for the GESTIS Substance Database.
5. Is there a list of all substances contained in the GESTIS Substance Database?
A table (XLSX, 1.0 MB) listing all substance names, ZVG numbers, CAS numbers, EC numbers and INDEX numbers can be found on the page Tips and Tricks for the GESTIS Substance Database, in the section on ZVG numbers. The file already contains the complete links to the respective substance data sheets.
6. What do the substance group codes mean?
Substance group codes are internal codes in the database that describe the chemical structure of each substance. They can be used to find information on a specific substance group.
Example: Find all sulfides: Call up a substance in this group, e.g. sodium sulfide, and find the substance group code 131100. Enter this code in the search box “Full text search”, which produces a list of all sulfides recorded here.
7. What are the requirements for a substance to be included in the GESTIS Substance Database?
Substances are included in the GESTIS Substance Database if they are subject to legal provisions (CLP Regulation, Annex VI, Table 3; occupational exposure limits according to TRGS 900; CMR classification according to TRGS 905) or if they are used in significant volumes. To a limited extent and provided that there is enough data, a substance can also be included and updated upon a request presented by a user.
|II. Questions about the search function
8. What search options does the GESTIS Substance Database offer?
The search function of the GESTIS Substance Database can be used to find substance data sheets, based on the name of a substance or part of it. It is also possible to search by entering a molecular formula or an identifier such as the ZVG number, EC number, index number, UN number or CAS number. As the GESTIS Substance Database mainly contains information on pure substances, we recommend searching via the CAS number.
9. Can I assume that a substance is non-hazardous if I can’t find it in the GESTIS Substance Database?
NO. There are so many chemical compounds that it is impossible to include all of them in the GESTIS Substance Database. If, therefore, a substance is not listed in the database, this doesn’t automatically mean that it is harmless.
10. Why don’t all substances have details about "occupational health and first aid"?
Details on occupational health and first aid are available for around 2,560 of the 8,800 substances contained in the GESTIS Substance Database. The pool of data is continually updated and expanded. However, it is not possible to provide information on all substances, as there is often not enough data.
|III. Questions about the update status of data
11. The details in our supplier’s safety data sheet do not match those in the GESTIS Substance Database, although the company is quoted there. How can that be?
Manufacturers are under an obligation to update their safety data sheets whenever new findings have emerged. The GESTIS Team regularly checks whether those details are up to date. However, it is impossible to warrant that changes are published in the GESTIS Substance Database as soon as they have occurred. For further details about the update status, go to Tips and Tricks for the GESTIS Substance Database.
12. Once regulatory data has been published, how long does it take for such data - e.g. a new workplace limit under TRGS 900 - to show on a GESTIS data sheet?
All regulatory data in TRGS 900, 903, 905, 906 and 907 are usually published in the GESTIS Substance Database immediately upon publication.
13. How up to date is the classification in the GESTIS Substance Database?
The latest status of the safety data sheet from which a classification was quoted and the year of the last review can be found at the end of the section EU GHS CLASSIFICATION AND LABELLING. Classification is reviewed at regular intervals.
14. How up to date are the records on occupational health and first aid?
The date of the last update is indicated at the end of the chapters occupational health and first aid, respectively.
15. Where can I see the date of the last update of a GESTIS substance data sheet?
There is no general update date for a substance data sheet. Updates are made thematically, not for a given substance. In some chapters (GHS classification, occupational health and first aid), the date of the last update is specified separately.
|IV. Questions about classification
16. Why does the manufacturer’s safety data sheet show a different classification from the one in the GESTIS Substance Database?
According to CLP Article 4, the manufacturer or importer is responsible for classifying a substance. They must do so on the basis of hazardous properties, following the criteria laid down in the CLP Regulation. Sometimes different manufacturers come to different conclusions in their assessment, and they therefore classify the same substance differently (see Question 18). Also, minor differences in the composition of a substance (e.g. due to impurities) can sometimes cause manufacturers to modify their classification.
A variety of sources are evaluated for classification in the GESTIS Substance Database:
The classification specified in the GESTIS Substance Database is selected by the GESTIS Team for the best possible match with the available data (e.g. physical and chemical data, toxicological data, occupational health).
17. Why does a classification in the GESTIS Substance Database occasionally differ from the corresponding CLP Regulation Annex VI, Table 3?
Since the CLP Regulation came into force, the responsibility for classification has been with the manufacturer or importer. If a substance is listed in CLP Annex VI, that classification must be used. However, it may need to be supplemented if further information has emerged, particularly regarding additional hazards (CLP Article 4 (3)).
In addition, some substances listed in CLP Annex VI are marked with an asterisk (*). This is a so-called minimum classification, and each manufacturer needs to check whether the specified classification should be tightened up on account of this hazard.
In such a case, the GESTIS Substance Database specifies the supplemented and/or tightened manufacturer’s classification.
18. Why do different manufacturers have a different classification for the same substance?
It is the manufacturer’s or importer’s responsibility to classify a substance on the basis of its hazardous properties under the criteria of the CLP Regulation. This means that different manufacturers often come to different conclusions (see Question 16).
There may be a variety of reasons:
19. Is the classification in the GESTIS Substance Database legally binding?
NO. The classification provided in the GESTIS Substance Database is not legally binding.
20. Can I download individual data sheets or the entire GESTIS Substance Database and put the details online or use them for in-house purposes?
21. How do I quote data sheets from the GESTIS Substance Database?
We would suggest quoting as follows (using the example of benzene):
"Entry on benzene in the GESTIS Substance Database of the IFA, accessed 20 January 2022, https://gestis.dguv.de/data?name=010060"
22. Can I provide links to substance data sheets in the GESTIS Substance Database?
YES. Click here for all the information on providing such links.
23. My IP address has been blocked, and I can no longer access the GESTIS Substance Database. Can I be unblocked?
An IP address can be unblocked upon review. Follow the instructions on the blocking screen and send us an email stating your IP address and how you used the database before you were blocked.
|VI. Technical questions
24. Can you send us GESTIS substance data sheets in a different file format or via an interface?
The only permitted way is to provide links to individual substance data sheets in the database. You can find the syntax for a link on our website. By placing a link, you can be sure that users can always access a given data sheet in its latest version.
25. Which devices can I use to access the GESTIS Substance Database?
The GESTIS Substance Database can be used on desktop computers and mobile devices.
26. Which browsers are supported?
The GESTIS Substance Database is compatible with standard modern desktop and mobile browsers (e.g. Chrome, Mozilla Firefox). However, if you use older browsers or versions of browsers, you may have problems with the display.
If your browser version is not supported, you will receive a message in your browser. You may be able to resolve the issue by updating your browser or changing to a standard one.
|VII. Contact and feedback
27. How can I contact the GESTIS Team?
We would be pleased to receive your feedback. Please feel free to give us a call or send us an email.
Dr Susanne Zöllner
Dr Conrad Wagner
Dr Caroline von Oppen
Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (IFA) of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV)
Exposure and Risk Assessment
Alte Heerstr. 111
53757 Sankt Augustin