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Hazard Communication Standard Safety Data Sheets: a section by section explanation to write your own SDS
Hazard Communication Standard Safety Data Sheets: a section by section explanation
were called MSDS for many years. The information contained in the SDS is largely the same as the MSDS, except now the SDSs are required to be
presented in a consistent user-friendly, 16-section format. Normally, SDS's are provided by the manufacturer. But what if you are the
manufacturer or you make your own unique formulations? This page provides guidance to help employers who need to create an SDS about the format and
understand the contents of the SDSs.
The SDS includes information such as the properties of each chemical; the physical, health, and environmental health hazards; protective measures;
and safety precautions for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical. The information contained in the SDS must be in English (although it
may be in other languages as well). In addition, OSHA requires that SDS preparers provide specific minimum information as detailed in Appendix D of
29 CFR 1910.1200. The SDS preparers may also include additional information in various section(s).
A description of all 16 sections of the SDS, along with their contents, is presented below:
Section 1: Identification
This section identifies the chemical on the SDS as well as the recommended uses. It also provides the essential
contact information of the supplier. The required information consists of:
- Product identifier used on the label and any other common names or synonyms by which the substance is known.
- Name, address, phone number of the manufacturer, importer, or other responsible party, and emergency phone
- Recommended use of the chemical (e.g., a brief description of what it actually does, such as flame retardant)
and any restrictions on use (including recommendations given by the supplier).
Section 2: Hazard(s) Identification
This section identifies the hazards of the chemical presented on the SDS and the appropriate warning
information associated with those hazards. The required information consists of:
- The hazard classification of the chemical (e.g., flammable liquid, category1).
- Signal word.
- Hazard statement(s).
- Pictograms (the pictograms or hazard symbols may be presented as graphical reproductions of the symbols in
black and white or be a description of the name of the symbol (e.g., skull and crossbones, flame).
- Precautionary statement(s).
- Description of any hazards not otherwise classified.
- For a mixture that contains an ingredient(s) with unknown toxicity, a statement describing how much
(percentage) of the mixture consists of ingredient(s) with unknown acute toxicity. Please note that this is a total percentage of the
mixture and not tied to the individual ingredient(s).
Section 3: Composition/Information on Ingredients
This section 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. The
required information consists of:
- Chemical name.
- Common name and synonyms.
- Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number and other unique identifiers.
- Impurities and stabilizing additives, which are themselves classified and which contribute to the
classification of the chemical.
- Same information required for substances.
- The chemical name and concentration (i.e., exact percentage) of all ingredients which are classified as
health hazards and are:
- Present above their cut-off/concentration limits or
- Present a health risk below the cut-off/concentration limits.
- The concentration (exact percentages) of each ingredient must be specified except concentration ranges may be
used in the following situations:
- A trade secret claim is made,
- There is batch-to-batch variation, or
- The SDS is used for a group of substantially similar mixtures.
Chemicals where a trade secret is claimed
- A statement that the specific chemical identity and/or exact percentage (concentration) of composition has
been withheld as a trade secret is required.
Section 4: First-Aid Measures
This section describes the initial care that should be given by untrained responders to an individual who has
been exposed to the chemical. The required information consists of:
- Necessary first-aid instructions by relevant routes of exposure (inhalation, skin and eye contact, and
- Description of the most important symptoms or effects, and any symptoms that are acute or delayed.
- Recommendations for immediate medical care and special treatment needed, when necessary.
Section 5: Fire-Fighting Measures
This section provides recommendations for fighting a fire caused by the chemical. The required information
- Recommendations of suitable extinguishing equipment, and information about extinguishing equipment that is
not appropriate for a particular situation.
- Advice on specific hazards that develop from the chemical during the fire, such as any hazardous combustion
products created when the chemical burns.
- Recommendations on special protective equipment or precautions for firefighters.
Section 6: Accidental Release Measures
This section 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. The required
information may consist of recommendations for:
- Use of personal precautions (such as removal of ignition sources or providing sufficient ventilation) and
protective equipment to prevent the contamination of skin, eyes, and clothing.
- Emergency procedures, including instructions for evacuations, consulting experts when needed, and appropriate
- Methods and materials used for containment (e.g., covering the drains and capping procedures).
- Cleanup procedures (e.g., appropriate techniques for neutralization, decontamination, cleaning or vacuuming;
adsorbent materials; and/or equipment required for containment/clean up)
Section 7: Handling and Storage
This section provides guidance on the safe handling practices and conditions for safe storage of chemicals. The
required information consists of:
- Precautions for safe handling, including recommendations for handling incompatible chemicals, minimizing the
release of the chemical into the environment, and providing advice on general hygiene practices (e.g., eating, drinking, and smoking in work
areas is prohibited).
- Recommendations on the conditions for safe storage, including any incompatibilities. Provide advice on
specific storage requirements (e.g., ventilation requirements)
Section 8: Exposure Controls/Personal Protection
This section indicates the exposure limits, engineering controls, and personal protective measures that can be
used to minimize worker exposure. The required information consists of:
- OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs), American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)
Threshold Limit Values (TLVs), and any other exposure limit used or recommended by the chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer
preparing the safety data sheet, where available.
- Appropriate engineering controls (e.g., use local exhaust ventilation, or use only in an enclosed system).
- Recommendations for personal protective measures to prevent illness or injury from exposure to chemicals,
such as personal protective equipment (PPE) (e.g., appropriate types of eye, face, skin or respiratory protection needed based on hazards
and potential exposure).
- Any special requirements for PPE, protective clothing or respirators (e.g., type of glove material, such as
PVC or nitrile rubber gloves; and breakthrough time of the glove material).
Section 9: Physical and Chemical Properties
This section identifies physical and chemical properties associated with the substance or mixture. The minimum
required information consists of:
- Appearance (physical state, color, etc.);
- Upper/lower flammability or explosive limits;
- Vapor pressure;
- Odor threshold;
- Vapor density;
- Relative density;
- Melting point/freezing point;
- Initial boiling point and boiling range;
- Flash point;
- Evaporation rate;
- Flammability (solid, gas);
- Partition coefficient: n-octanol/water;
- Auto-ignition temperature;
- Decomposition temperature; and
The SDS may not contain every item on the above list because information may not be relevant or is not
available. When this occurs, a notation to that effect must be made for that chemical property. Manufacturers may also add other relevant
properties, such as the dust deflagration index (Kst) for combustible dust, used to evaluate a dust's explosive potential
Section 10: Stability and Reactivity
This section describes the reactivity hazards of the chemical and the chemical stability information. This
section is broken into three parts: reactivity, chemical stability, and other. The required information consists of:
- Description of the specific test data for the chemical(s). This data can be for a class or family of the
chemical if such data adequately represent the anticipated hazard of the chemical(s), where available.
- Indication of whether the chemical is stable or unstable under normal ambient temperature and conditions
while in storage and being handled.
- Description of any stabilizers that may be needed to maintain chemical stability.
- Indication of any safety issues that may arise should the product change in physical appearance.
- Indication of the possibility of hazardous reactions, including a statement whether the chemical will react
or polymerize, which could release excess pressure or heat, or create other hazardous conditions. Also, a description of the conditions
under which hazardous reactions may occur.
- List of all conditions that should be avoided (e.g., static discharge, shock, vibrations, or environmental
conditions that may lead to hazardous conditions).
- List of all classes of incompatible materials (e.g., classes of chemicals or specific substances) with which
the chemical could react to produce a hazardous situation.
- List of any known or anticipated hazardous decomposition products that could be produced because of use,
storage, or heating. (Hazardous combustion products should also be included in Section 5 (Fire-Fighting Measures) of the SDS.)
Section 11: Toxicological Information
This section identifies toxicological and health effects information or indicates that such data are not
available. The required information consists of:
- Information on the likely routes of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, skin and eye contact). The SDS should
indicate if the information is unknown.
- Description of the delayed, immediate, or chronic effects from short- and long-term exposure.
- The numerical measures of toxicity (e.g., acute toxicity estimates such as the LD50 (median lethal dose)) -
the estimated amount [of a substance] expected to kill 50% of test animals in a single dose.
- Description of the symptoms. This description includes the symptoms associated with exposure to the chemical
including symptoms from the lowest to the most severe exposure.
- Indication of whether the chemical is listed in the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Report on Carcinogens
(latest edition) or has been found to be a potential carcinogen in the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs (latest
editions) or found to be a potential carcinogen by OSHA
Section 12: Ecological Information (non-mandatory)
This section provides information to evaluate the environmental impact of the chemical(s) if it were released
to the environment. The information may include:
- Data from toxicity tests performed on aquatic and/or terrestrial organisms, where available (e.g., acute or
chronic aquatic toxicity data for fish, algae, crustaceans, and other plants; toxicity data on birds, bees, plants).
- Whether there is a potential for the chemical to persist and degrade in the environment either through
biodegradation or other processes, such as oxidation or hydrolysis.
- Results of tests of bioaccumulation potential, making reference to the octanol-water partition coefficient (Kow)
and the bioconcentration factor (BCF), where available.
- The potential for a substance to move from the soil to the groundwater (indicate results from adsorption
studies or leaching studies).
- Other adverse effects (e.g., environmental fate, ozone layer depletion potential, photochemical ozone
creation potential, endocrine disrupting potential, and/or global warming potential).
Section 13: Disposal Considerations (non-mandatory)
This section 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. The information may include:
- Description of appropriate disposal containers to use.
- Recommendations of appropriate disposal methods to employ.
- Description of the physical and chemical properties that may affect disposal activities.
- Language discouraging sewage disposal.
- Any special precautions for landfills or incineration activities
Section 14: Transport Information (non-mandatory)
This section provides guidance on classification information for shipping and transporting of hazardous
chemical(s) by road, air, rail, or sea. The information may include:
- UN number (i.e., four-figure identification number of the substance)1.
- UN proper shipping name1.
- Transport hazard class(es)1.
- Packing group number, if applicable, based on the degree of hazard2.
- Environmental hazards (e.g., identify if it is a marine pollutant according to the International Maritime
Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code)).
- Guidance on transport in bulk (according to Annex II of MARPOL 73/783 and
the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (International Bulk Chemical Code
- Any special precautions which an employee should be aware of or needs to comply with, in connection with
transport or conveyance either within or outside their premises (indicate when information is not available).
Section 15: Regulatory Information (non-mandatory)
This section identifies the safety, health, and environmental regulations specific for the product that is not
indicated anywhere else on the SDS. The information may include:
- Any national and/or regional regulatory information of the chemical or mixtures (including any OSHA,
Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, or Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations)
Section 16: Other Information
This section 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.
Employers must ensure that the SDSs are readily accessible to employees for all hazardous chemicals in their workplace. This may be done in many
ways. For example, employers may keep the SDSs in a binder or on computers as long as the employees have immediate access to the information without
leaving their work area when needed and a back-up is available for rapid access to the SDS in the case of a power outage or other emergency.
Furthermore, employers may want to designate a person(s) responsible for obtaining and maintaining the SDSs. If the employer does not have an SDS,
the employer or designated person(s) should contact the manufacturer to obtain one.
OSHA, 29 CFR 1910.1200(g) and Appendix D. United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), third
revised edition, United Nations, 2009. These references and other information related to the revised Hazard Communication Standard can be found on
OSHA's Hazard Communication Safety and Health Topics page, located at:
Disclaimer: This brief provides a general overview of the safety data sheet requirements in the Hazard Communication Standard (see 29 CFR
1910.1200(g) and Appendix D of 29 CFR 1910.1200). It does not alter or determine compliance responsibilities in the standard or the Occupational
Safety and Health Act of 1970. Since interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, the reader should consult current OSHA
interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the courts for additional guidance on OSHA compliance
requirements. Please note that states with OSHA-approved state plans may have additional requirements for chemical safety data sheets, outside of
those outlined above. For more information on those standards, please visit:
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 (
). 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
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.
For expanded definitions and examples for each of the 16 sections below, click
here. The 16 sections are:
- Hazard(s) identification
- Composition/information on ingredients
- First-aid measures
- Fire-fighting measures
- Accidental release measures
- Handling and storage
- Exposure controls/personal protection
- Physical and chemical properties
- Stability and reactivity
- Toxicological information
- Ecological information
- Disposal considerations
- Transport information
- Regulatory information
- Other information
If you want to see the older OSHA form, you can
see the OSHA 174 MSDS form online here
download a blank MSDS form as Word rtf file here
(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!
dictionary of terms click here