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What is a MSDS?

What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?
A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a document that contains information on the potential health effects of exposure and how to work safely with the chemical product. It is an essential starting point to develop a complete health and safety program. It contains hazard evaluations on the use, storage, handling and emergency procedures all related to that material. The MSDS contains much more information about the material than the label and it is prepared by the supplier. It is intended to tell what the hazards of the product are, how to use the product safely, what to expect if the recommendations are not followed, what to do if accidents occur, how to recognize symptoms of overexposure, and what to do if such incidents occur.

The first ten sections of an MSDS contain information required by OSHA that workers in most jobs should know.  This includes:

  • Product name and manufacturer information, including an emergency telephone number
  • Information about the product's ingredients
  • Hazards related to the material, plus an emergency overview and potential physical and health benefits
  • First aid action in case of exposure
  • Fire-fighting procedures
  • What to do if a spill or leak occurs
  • Proper handling and storage
  • How to prevent exposure, including what personal protective equipment to use
  • Physical and chemical properties, such as odor and boiling point
  • How the ingredients react when mixed with other chemicals or when stored or handled incorrectly

    The remaining six sections of an MSDS detail how toxic the material is, how it affects the environment, proper methods of transportation and disposal, and government regulations the material falls under.

    No matter what your job is, you must look over an entire MSDS to determine what information applies to you or particular situation.  Ask your supervisor or safety personnel if you have any questions about the information on an MSDS or concerns that are not addressed by it.  Your lack of understanding could jeopardize your health and safety, and that of your co-workers!

  • Title: What is a MSDS?
    Description: Definition of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)
    Published: 7/24/2003
    Last Edited: 9/19/2013
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