What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)? – Back to top A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a document that contains information on the potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity and environmental) and how to work safely with the chemical product.

It is an essential starting point for the development of a complete health and safety program. It also contains information on the use, storage, handling and emergency procedures all related to the hazards of the material. The MSDS contains much more information about the material than the label. MSDSs are prepared by the supplier or manufacturer of the material.

It is intended to tell what the hazards of the product are, how to use the product safely, what to expect if the recommendations are not followed, what to do if accidents occur, how to recognize symptoms of overexposure, and what to do if such incidents occur.

What are the purpose of safety data sheets?

January 25, 1995 The Honorable James A. Barcia House of Representatives Suite 502 301 East Genesee Saginaw, Michigan 48607 Dear Congressman Barcia: Thank you for your letter of October 13, concerning an inquiry from your constituent, Mr. Jerome Bouverette, related to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS).

Mr. Bouverette requested clarification of the purpose of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), which are required to be developed and distributed under (the HCS. MSDSs are specified by section 1910.1200(g) of the HCS (enclosed). The MSDS lists the hazardous ingredients of a product, its physical and chemical characteristics (e.g.

flammability, explosive properties), its effect on human health, the chemicals with which it can adversely react, handling precautions, the types of measures that can be used to control exposure, emergency and first aid procedures, and methods to contain a spill.

  1. When new regulatory information, such as exposure limits, or new health effects information becomes available, the MSDS must be updated to reflect it.
  2. Employers and employees need the information contained on MSDSs to protect themselves from hazardous chemical exposures and to work safely with chemical products.

The result will be a reduction in chemical source illness and injuries in the workplace. Since the HCS became effective, the use and distribution of MSDSs have proven to be an effective and efficient way to ensure that employers and employees can obtain necessary information on the hazards associated with exposure to chemicals in the workplace.

  1. It should also be noted that MSDSs are only required for hazardous chemicals.
  2. In reality, MSDSs are prepared and provided for many products that are not covered by the HCS.
  3. It is our understanding that this is being done for product liability purposes, not for compliance with any Federal regulation.
  4. In fact, MSDSs were prepared and made available by many producers prior to implementation of regulatory requirements.

In addition, many customers request MSDSs on all products, whether they are hazardous or not. This practice has also encouraged producers to provide MSDSs for non-hazardous products. While OSHA does not require or encourage this practice, we certainly do not have the authority to prohibit producers from distributing such MSDSs.

What are the 4 main purposes of an SDS?

The SDS includes information such as the properties of each chemical; the physical, health, and environmental health hazards; protective measures; and safety precautions for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical.

What is the most important section of a SDS?

For most people who work with hazardous products, you should always: read the name of the chemical ( Section 1 ), know the hazards (Section 2), understand safe handling and storage instructions (Section 7), and understand what to do in an emergency (Sections 4, 5 and 6).

Who needs MSDS sheets?

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  1. What products require an SDS?
    • Any product that is considered a hazardous chemical requires a safety data sheet. A hazardous chemical, as defined by the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), is any chemical which can cause a physical or a health hazard. This determination is made by the chemical manufacturer, as described in 29 CFR 1910.1200(d).
  2. Where do SDSs come from?
    • Safety data sheets are created by the manufacturer and/or distributor of the hazardous chemical. SDSs are updated by the chemical manufacturer or distributor within three months of learning of “new or significant information” regarding the chemical’s hazard potential.
  3. What is the difference between an SDS and an MSDS?
    • There is no difference between an MSDS and an SDS, both are generic terms for safety data sheets. Under the transition to GHS standards, the term material safety data sheet was updated to safety data sheet. Safety data sheets (SDS) typically refer to documents that are compliant with the GHS standard.
  4. What are the 5 elements of a written HAZCOM program?
    • There are 5 main elements to a Hazard Communication Program:
    1. Written Hazard Communication Program
    2. Inventory of hazardous chemicals and hazard assessment
    3. System for maintaining MSDSs
    4. Chemical labels and warning signs
    5. Training programs
  5. Can MSDSs be stored on a computer to meet the accessibility requirements of HAZCOM?

    If the employee’s work area includes the area where the MSDSs can be obtained, then maintaining MSDSs on a computer would be in compliance. If the MSDSs can be accessed only out of the employee’s work area(s), then the employer would be out of compliance with paragraphs (g)(8) or (g)(9),

  6. What are the container labeling requirements under HAZCOM?

    Under HCS, the manufacturer, importer, or distributor is required to label each container of hazardous chemicals. If the hazardous chemicals are transferred into unmarked containers, these containers must be labeled with the required information, unless the container into which the chemical is transferred is intended for the immediate use of the employee who performed the transfer.

  7. How Do I read an SDS?
    • If you need to read an SDS to find information for a given material, there are two steps for you to follow. First, find the right document; second, find the specific details you need.
    • Finding the right document should be easy. Every chemical manufacturer or importer must provide an SDS for any hazardous materials they sell, and OSHA requires that all workplaces in the United States keep an SDS for every hazardous chemical onsite. If you need to find an SDS, you can often search in the system for the applicable identifying information such as: product name, product code, trade name, synonym, etc.
    • Once you have an SDS, check the first section for the name and basic description of the material, to make sure that you are looking at the right information. The product identifier, or name of the material, should exactly match the name that appears on the material’s container. You’ll also want to ensure the SDS is up-to-date; the last part of the SDS (Section 16) will usually include the date of the document’s preparation, although this may also be printed at the top of the first page.
    • Once you know you have the right document, it’s time to find the right detail. Depending on what you need to find, you may look in different parts of the document. For example:
      • Identifying information about the material will be in Section 1: Identification
      • Details of the material’s hazards, and basic safety instructions, will be in Section 2: Hazard Identification
      • For first aid and medical response to exposures, see Section 4: First-Aid Measures
      • To respond to a spill or leak, look in Section 6: Accidental Release Measures
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What is the validity of MSDS?

What is the validity period of the MSDS certificate? – Under WHMIS law, the validity period of the MSDS certificate is 3 years and needs to be updated every 3 years.

Where should MSDS be kept in the workplace?

MSDSs must be readily accessible during each work shift to all employees in their work areas. MSDSs may be kept at a central location at the company’s primary workplace or at the central office, provided employees can obtain the required information in an emergency.

Who can prepare MSDS?

2.1 Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) are documents prepared by the manufactures/ suppliers of the chemicals and contain information on physical and chemical properties of the material, potential hazards of the material and how to work safely with these materials.

What is in Section 4 of an SDS?

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) Explained Last Updated: September 22, 2020 10:41:01 AM PDT Safety Data Sheets (formerly called Material Safety Data Sheets) communicate hazard information about chemical products.

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The federal, revised in 2012, now requires chemical manufacturers, distributors, and importers to provide new Safety Data Sheets in a uniform format that includes the section numbers, headings, and associated information below. Section 1 – Identification identifies the chemical on the SDS as well as the recommended uses.

It also provides the essential contact information of the supplier. Section 2 – Hazard(s) identification includes the hazards of the chemical and the appropriate warning information associated with those hazards. Section 3 – Composition/information on ingredients identifies the ingredient(s) contained in the product indicated on the SDS, including impurities and stabilizing additives.

This section includes information on substances, mixtures, and all chemicals where a trade secret is claimed. Section 4 – First-aid measures describes the initial care that should be given by untrained responders to an individual who has been exposed to the chemical.

Section 5 – Fire-fighting measures lists recommendations for fighting a fire caused by the chemical, including suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment, and chemical hazards from fire. Section 6 – Accidental release measures provides recommendations on the appropriate response to spills, leaks, or releases, including containment and cleanup practices to prevent or minimize exposure to people, properties, or the environment.

It may also include recommendations distinguishing between responses for large and small spills where the spill volume has a significant impact on the hazard.

Section 7 – Handling and storage provides guidance on the safe handling practices and conditions for safe storage of chemicals, including incompatibilities. Section 8 – Exposure controls/personal protection indicates the exposure limits, engineering controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE) measures that can be used to minimize worker exposure. Section 9 – Physical and chemical properties identifies physical and chemical properties associated with the substance or mixture.

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Section 10 – Stability and reactivity describes the reactivity hazards of the chemical and the chemical stability information. This section is broken into 3 parts: reactivity, chemical stability, and other. Section 11 – Toxicological information identifies toxicological and health effects information or indicates that such data are not available.

This includes routes of exposure, related symptoms, acute and chronic effects, and numerical measures of toxicity. Section 12 – Ecological information provides information to evaluate the environmental impact of the chemical(s) if it were released to the environment. Section 13 – Disposal considerations provides guidance on proper disposal practices, recycling or reclamation of the chemical(s) or its container, and safe handling practices.

To minimize exposure, this section should also refer the reader to Section 8 (Exposure Controls/Personal Protection) of the SDS. Section 14 – Transport information includes guidance on classification information for shipping and transporting of hazardous chemical(s) by road, air, rail, or sea.

Section 15 – Regulatory information identifies the safety, health, and environmental regulations specific for the product that is not indicated anywhere else on the SDS. Section 16 – Other information indicates when the SDS was prepared or when the last known revision was made. The SDS may also state where the changes have been made to the previous version.

You may wish to contact the supplier for an explanation of the changes. Other useful information also may be included here. : Safety Data Sheets (SDS) Explained

What is found in Section 4 of an SDS sheet?

Immediate Medical Attention and Special Treatment. Information describing the immediate medical attention and special treatment that may be necessary (e.g. Known antidotes and any contraindications) as a result of exposure to the product must be disclosed, if necessary.

What are three of the required sections for an SDS document?

Information to include in safety data sheets – Australia uses the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) to classify and label chemicals. The classification information will help you when developing the SDS. The SDS must include the chemical’s:

hazards and how to handle it safely, including storage and disposal physical and chemical properties potential health and emergency response measures environmental effects.

You must set the information out under certain headings:

Section 1 – Identification: product identifier and chemical identity Section 2 – Hazard(s) identification Section 3 – Composition and information on ingredients Section 4 – First aid measures Section 5 – Firefighting measures Section 6 – Accidental release measures Section 7– Handling and storage, including how the chemical may be safely used Section 8 – Exposure controls and personal protection Section 9 – Physical and chemical properties Section 10 – Stability and reactivity Section 11 – Toxicological information Section 12 – Ecological information Section 13 – Disposal considerations Section 14 – Transport information Section 15 – Regulatory information Section 16 – Any other relevant information

The model Code of Practice for the Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals tells you what to put in an SDS and includes a checklist.

What are the main objectives to standardizing the format of the SDS?

When were (Material) Safety Data Sheets “invented”? For a history of Safety Data Sheets (dating back to the ancient Egyptians!), see Aaron Kaplan’s presentation at http://jrm.phys.ksu.edu/Safety/kaplan.html, OSHA began requiring MSDS’s for hazardous materials effective May 26, 1986 under 29 CFR 1910.1200, the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard.

  1. With the 2012 revision of the HCS, OSHA adopted the Globally Harmonized System and started phasing in SDS’s from 2013 through 2016,
  2. The differences between MSDS’s and SDS’s are discussed earlier in this FAQ.
  3. A comparison of the 1994 and 2012 HCS is also available which strikes out the old language in red, inserts new language in green, and has additional commentary on each section.

What agencies or regulations require us to keep SDS’s? OSHA The U.S. Government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for the Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200, The purpose of this standard is ” to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are classified, and that information concerning the classified hazards is transmitted to employers and employees,

  1. The requirements of this section are intended to be consistent with the provisions of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), Revision 3.
  2. The transmittal of information is to be accomplished by means of comprehensive hazard communication programs, which are to include container labeling and other forms of warning, safety data sheets and employee training.

” The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) specifies the required elements that must be on an SDS among other important data. It is a very readable document, and we suggest that anyone involved with SDS management print out a hard copy for future reference.

Note that under the HCS, an SDS can contain more information than that required by OSHA, but not less. EPA Other regulations address SDS’s as well. For example, the U.S. Government’s Environmental Protection Agency ‘s (EPA) Community Right to Know Law (SARA Title III) is another set of regulations you’ll want to consult.

State and Local Agencies Any number of state and local regulations may (redundantly) require SDS’s. Such regulations lie outside the scope of this FAQ. If you are uncertain as to which laws apply to you, contact both your state and federal EPA and OSHA compliance (not enforcement!) offices.

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Other Countries Regulations similar to OSHA’s are found in virtually every country, but these tend to vary slightly. Consult the GHS and International section of this FAQ for more information. What organizations are exempt from OSHA’s SDS regulations? Federal OSHA, as a federal agency, does not have jurisdiction over those employed by state, county, city or municipal governments.

However, several state plans do cover such public sector employment (as indicated in the quote below, New York is one such state). Quoting federal OSHA: “States with approved plans must adopt standards identical or comparable to Federal standards, Under its OSHA-approved State plan and in accordance with Section 27-a of the PESH Act, New York adopts and enforces occupational safety and health standards in the public sector which are identical to OSHA’s.

  1. New York has adopted and is enforcing a Fire Protection Standard in the public sector which is identical to Federal OSHA’s.
  2. Therefore, public schools must comply with the same Fire Protection Standard as private schools, but the standard is promulgated and enforced by the State.” Thus, the key consideration for public sector workers is federal OSHA versus state OSHA.

When the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 created OSHA, Section 18 allowed for states to come up with their own individual state plans. These state plans are monitored by federal OSHA and must at least meet the federal standards. Many go beyond the federal standards.

There are currently 26 state plan states in addition to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. See http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/index.html for more information on how state plans work and which ones have standards that differ from federal OSHA’s as well as a state plan FAQ. Other states have adopted non-federally funded safety and health programs that cover their state or certain counties, cities or municipalities, so just because your state is not on the list mentioned above, it doesn’t mean that OSHA regulations (or their equivalents) are not in place! In addition, state or local “Right-To-Know” laws may (or may not) include specific hazard communications type requirements (such as SDS).

And, of course, SARA Title III also covers SDS’s. Regardless of the state/federal coverage, your employer’s insurance carrier may stipulate that your workplace meet OSHA standards even if they are not required to statute. And, of course, from a legal liability standpoint meeting (or exceeding) OSHA standards is probably a good idea.

Bottom line: If you’re not sure what laws are applicable in your situation, especially if you work for a public agency, contact your local OSHA compliance office ; they might be able to direct you to appropriate agencies. What is the minimum amount of material that requires an SDS? The HazCom standard does not specify a minimum amount, for good reason.

Some chemicals are exceedingly dangerous in even milligram quantities while others are not. There is no way that the Standard could anticipate and determine the potentially toxic effects of over 114,000,000 known chemical compounds (as of June 2016) and their mixtures, Safety Emporium carries all kinds of gas cylinder accessories to ensure you stay safe in the workplace. The only exception for this is when the material can release only a “very small quantities”, i.e. a trace amount of hazardous chemical under normal conditions of use or a forseeable emergency.

That does not mean a small amount. For example, in an OSHA Interpretation titled ” Release of hazardous chemicals from gas calibration bottles “, OSHA says that 2 ounces of ammonia requires an SDS. When trying to make a case for “trace amount”, one has to consider if it is possible for an individual to be exposed to an amount of material that could cause harm.

In the case above, an individual could conceivably release the contents of the cylinder into his/her face, causing harm. Likewise, the continuous release of just 25 ppm of hydrogen sulfide could cause serious harm! Remember, OSHA does does not define something as hazardous in a particular amount.

  1. Per OSHA: “The HCS addresses chemical hazards which are inherent properties of the hazardous chemical and would exist no matter what quantity was present in the workplace.
  2. Risk is a function of the inherent hazard and level of exposure.
  3. A substance either is or is not a hazardous chemical; the HCS definition cannot be read to indicate that a substance could be a hazardous chemical in some concentrations but not in others.” To summarize, an SDS is required in almost every case unless there is essentially no way that the amount of material could cause harm.

For additional information see this 1993 OSHA interpretation as well as this 2005 interpretation titled ” Requirement to disclose all chemicals having scientific evidence that they pose a health risk regardless of concentrations present in the product on the MSDS,” What items do (or do not) require SDS’s? OSHA requires SDS’s ONLY for materials that a) meet OSHA’s definition of hazardous and b) are “known to be present in the workplace in such a manner that employees may be exposed under normal conditions of use or in a foreseeable emergency”.