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Safety Data Sheets: What are They?



April 21, 2021



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Safety Data Sheets: What are They?

Safety Data Sheets: What are They? Formerly called “MSDS”, Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are required by state and federal agencies to include information such as chemical properties as well as the health, physical, and environmental health hazards of the chemicals and all safety and protective measures in place for the handling, storing, and transportation of each chemical.  The SDS includes specific details on each chemical such as required PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), procedures for first aid in case of incident, and all details and procedures for spill clean-up.

Government Organizations Involved with SDS

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is responsible for the Hazard Communication Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200 and have been designed to make sure that all chemicals produced or imported have clear explanations and details of hazards for employers and employees. Comprehensive information for all chemicals and dangers are to be included as part of the labels on containers, employee training, and in safety data sheets. The information is also crafted to align with the provisions of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have regulations that also address SDS. The SARA (Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act) is a reauthorization and amendment of CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act of 1980) aka “the SuperFund Act”. Both SARA and CERCLA involve the identification, remediation, and prevention of hazardous substances release to the environment.

Local and State Agencies: There are various local and state agencies involved in dictating SDS regulations.

Countries other than the U.S.:  Almost all countries have some form of regulations that are similar to those found in OSHA’s guidelines and are designed to comply with those established by the GHA. In today’s global economy, countries are involved in creating and transporting chemicals internationally.

Safety Data Sheets: What are They?

Responsibilities of Employers

Employers must make sure that SDSs are easily accessible to all workplace employees. This can be done by having a binder with all SDS information and/or on an easily accessible computer available to employees without leaving their work area. A copy should be available in the case of a power outage. Employers should designate specific individual(s) responsible for maintaining all information on the SDSs. In the case that an employer doesn’t have an SDS, the employer needs to contain the chemical manufacturer.

What are Mandatory Requirements In an SDS?

General Identification: The SDS must include the following areas of identification for the product/chemical:

Hazards Identification: Must include the chemical hazards and all warning information for the hazards. The SDS must have the following hazards identification information:

Ingredients and/or Composition Information: Identification of product ingredients including additives used as stabilizers and impurities. It includes information on mixtures, chemicals, and substances where there is a claimed trade secret. The requirements include:

*Substances including:

*Mixtures including:

First-Aid and Fire-Fighting Measures: First-aid measures are designed to describe the actions and care that should be taken by a responder that hasn’t been trained when an individual has had a chemical exposure. Fire-fighting measures are the recommendations and actions that need to be taken to fight a fire that has been caused by the chemical.

*First-Aid measures include:

*Fire-fighting measures include:

Information on Accidental Release: This involves actions taken as a response to leaks, spills, or releases and includes practices for containment, cleanup, and prevent/minimize exposure to individuals, properties and/or the environment. It can also include the differentiation between large and small spills. The information includes recommendations:

Handling and Storage: Guidance on practices of safe conditions, handling and storage of chemicals. Information includes:

Exposure Control/PPE (Personal Protection Equipment): Detailed information on limits of exposure, engineering controls, and PPE for minimization of exposure for workers. To include:

Chemical and Physical Properties: Identification of chemical and physical properties associated with the mixture or substance. The SDS may not include all of these due to lack of information or relevancy but must include a notation beside each and include any other relevant properties. Minimum information includes:

Stability and Reactivity of Chemical(s): This explains both the reactivity and stability of a chemical and is in three parts:

Information on Toxicological Condition of Chemical(s): This area details health effects and toxicological information as well as when that data isn’t available. It includes:

Non-Mandatory Requirements for the SDS:

Ecological Information: offers information for the evaluation of the chemical(s) impacts on the environment if it/they were to be released. It includes:

Considerations for Disposal: Proper practices for disposal including recycling and/or reclamation of the chemical(s), the container(s) and practices for safe handling. This should include:

Information for Transportation: This offers guidelines on the classification information for transporting and shipping hazardous chemical(s) by road, sea, or rail. It can include:

Regulatory Information: This area includes the regulations for health, safety and the environment that are specific to the product but not included in any other SDS area. It can include:

Other or Miscellaneous Information:  This area should indicate the date/time the SDS was prepared and the information on the last known revision. It can also include the sections that any changes were made from pervious versions and any pertinent information that is not found in other sections of the SDS.


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