Material Safety Data Sheets

Material Safety Data Sheets

The Material Safety Data Sheet, or MSDS, is a document that gives detailed information about a material and about any hazards associated with the material. The Hazard Communication Standard sets forth certain responsibilities having to do with MSDSs.

  • It is the responsibility of the manufacturer of a material to determine what hazards are associated with the material, to prepare an MSDS for the material, and to provide the MSDS to any recipients of the material.
  • It is the responsibility of an employer to provide MSDSs and training in their interpretation to the employees. MSDSs for hazardous materials must be immediately available in the workplace.
  • It is the responsibility of the employees to read and understand the MSDSs of any chemicals used on the job.

OSHA specifies that each MSDS must include, at a minimum, the information listed in the twelve sections below. Beyond that, OSHA does not specify the exact format of the MSDS, nor even how the information should be broken into sections, and so MSDSs prepared by different manufacturers tend to look different and contain different information. Even MSDSs for the same chemical can be quite different if they were prepared by different manufacturers.

OSHA Mandated MSDS Information

Item I: Chemical Identity

The chemical identity as listed on the label, the material's chemical and common names, and a list of all hazardous ingredients.

Item II: Physical Data

Physical and chemical characteristics, such as vapor pressure, flash point, density, boiling point, etc.

Item III: Physical Hazards

Fire and explosion data. Reactivity data. These usually appear as two separate sections on the actual MSDS.

Item IV: Health Hazards

Signs and symptoms of exposure, and any medical conditions generally recognized as being aggravated by exposure to the material.

Item V: Primary Route(s) of Entry

The route(s) by which the material could most likely enter the body.

Item VI: Exposure Limits

Legal exposure limits (OSHA and other recommended limits). This frequently includes toxicity information.

Item VII: Whether the Material is Carcinogenic

States whether the material has been found to be carcinogenic.

Item VIII: Precautions for Safe Handling and Use

Any precautions for safe handling and use know to the party preparing the MSDS, such as appropriate hygienic practices, protective measures required during handling of contaminated equipment, and procedures for clean-up of spills and leaks.

Item IX: Control Measures

Any control measures known to the party preparing the MSDS, such as engineering controls, work practices, or personal protective equipment.

Item X: Emergency and First-Aid Measures

Self explanatory.

Item XI: Revision Data

Date of preparation of the MSDS, and the date of the last change to it.

Item XII: Manufacturer Contact Information

Name, address, and telephone number of the party responsible for the MSDS, who can provide additional information about the material if necessary.