How to Write a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDs) for Your Product

How to Write a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDs) for Your Product

How to Write an MSDS for Your Company's Product

Overview

This page will help you prepare an MSDS for your company's product(s). A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is required under the U.S. OSHA Hazard Communication Standard .(Also called the Right-to-Know Law).  Development of MSDS's was mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in their Hazard Communications Standard 29CFR 1910.1200. Every company that manufactures or distributes hazardous chemicals in the United States must prepare a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and make it available to employees who work with the company and business purchasers. Most developed countries have similar requirements.  To prepare an MSDS in compliance with the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 for New Zea land, click here . The MSDS is a detailed informational document prepared by the manufacturer or importer of a hazardous chemical.  It describes the physical and chemical properties of the product. MSDS’s contain useful information such as flash point, toxicity, procedures for spills and leaks, and storage guidelines. Information included in a Material Safety Data Sheet aids in the selection of safe products, helps you understand the potential health and physical hazards of a chemical and describes how to respond effectively to exposure situations. Although there is an effort currently underway to standardizes MSDS’s the quality of individual MSDS’s vary. A MSDS may be useful but it can not substitute for prudent practices and comprehensive risk management.

Requirements

The requirements for MSDSs are found in paragraph (g) of 29 CFR 1910.1200 ( click for the full text of the regulation ). MSDSs must be developed for hazardous chemicals used in the workplace, and must list the hazardous chemicals that are found in a product in quantities of 1% or greater, or 0.1% or greater if the chemical is a carcinogen. The MSDS does not have to list the amount that the hazardous chemical occurs in the product. Specifically.

 They are required as a part of any compliance obligation to be available and displayed prominently in the workplace. The public has a right to MSDS data upon request.  

They must be written in English and contain:

  • the name of the chemical (same as on the label)
  • the chemical and common names of the substance
  • a listing of the ingredients
  • a statement of the ingredients that are known carcinogens or that present other known hazards
  • any specific hazards

In general, if your business uses hazardous chemicals (as opposed to manufacturing or importing them for sale to others) you should be able to obtain a MSDS from the manufacturer, so that you can post it in the workplace and keep it in your records.

If you are a manufacturer, who is looking for the MSDS form to create a sheet,  OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) specifies certain information that must be included on MSDSs, but does not require that any particular format be followed in presenting this information (see 29 CFR 1910.1200 (g) ).

What Format to Use To Create Your MSDS - Free Blank Forms to Use

In order to promote consistent presentation of information, OSHA recommends that MSDSs follow the 16-section format established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for preparation of MSDSs ( Z400.1 ). ANSI, of course will charge you $65 if you want a copy (rip-off!!!)   You are not prohibited from using the older (1985) OSHA 174 Form - see this page for the 174 form .

By following this recommended format, the information of greatest concern to workers is featured at the beginning of the data sheet, including information on chemical composition and first aid measures. More technical information that addresses topics such as the physical and chemical properties of the material and toxicological data appears later in the document. While some of this information (such as ecological information) is not required by the HCS, the 16-section MSDS is becoming the international norm. The 16 sections are:

  1. Identification
  2. Hazard(s) identification
  3. Composition/information on ingredients
  4. First-aid measures
  5. Fire-fighting measures
  6. Accidental release measures
  7. Handling and storage
  8. Exposure controls/personal protection
  9. Physical and chemical properties
  10. Stability and reactivity
  11. Toxicological information
  12. Ecological information
  13. Disposal considerations
  14. Transport information
  15. Regulatory information
  16. Other information

If you want to see the older OSHA form, you can see the OSHA 174 MSDS form online here OR download a blank MSDS form as Word rtf file here for free (right click and select "save target as" if you want to save a copy to your hard drive, where you can open it and work on it).

Also see this guidance from OSHA:

   To find an MSDS, click here! For the dictionary of terms click here .

This page was updated on 4-Mar-2014