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Definition of Terms Used in Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS's)

Definitions of Terms Used in Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS's)

Overview

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is required under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard . 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.

 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:

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) ). 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!!!)    Here is a sample of the the form, 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).  Here is a checklist to help you prepare it.

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:

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). !

  To find an MSDS, click here! For the dictionary of terms scroll down this page.  

Definitions

This page was updated on 3-Mar-2014