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The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) requires that employees be provided with information about hazardous chemicals that they use or may be exposed to in the workplace. Safety Data Sheets (SDS), formally known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), are one of the primary tool that manufacturers use to describe hazardous properties of chemicals and appropriate risk mitigation techniques.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) must be readily accessible in employees' work areas and laboratories. This requirement can be met in the following ways:
- Physical copies of SDSs can be kept in binders in the laboratory or work space, or;
- Online resources may be used as an alternative to hard copies provided that a computer in accessible in the work area.
Laboratories and offices may choose to use option "2" where online access is available. Shops, mechanical spaces, and art studios, where a computer is not readily available or all employees do not have access to a computer must maintain hard copies of SDSs.
Safety Data Sheet Sections
Safety Data Sheets are required by the Hazard Communication Standard to be made up of sixteen sections in a standardized format outlined 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.
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.