Understanding Safety Data Sheets
The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) (29 CFR 1910.1200(g)), revised in 2012, requires that the chemical manufacturer, distributor, or importer provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) (formerly MSDSs or Material Safety Data Sheets) for each hazardous chemical to downstream users to communicate information on these hazards. The information contained in the SDS is largely the same as the MSDS, except now the SDSs are required to be resented in a consistent user-friendly, 16-section format. This brief provides guidance to help workers who handle hazardous chemicals to become familiar with 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).
Sections 1 through 8 contain general information about the chemical, identification, hazards, composition, safe handling practices, and emergency control measures (e.g., fire fighting). This information should be helpful to those that need to get the information quickly. Sections 9 through 11 and 16 contain other technical and scientific information, such as physical and chemical properties, stability and reactivity information, toxicological information, exposure control information, and other information including the date of preparation or last revision. The SDS must also state that no applicable information was found when the preparer does not find relevant
information for any required element.
The SDS must also contain Sections 12 through 15, to be consistent with the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), but OSHA will not enforce the content of these sections
because they concern matters handled by other agencies.
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
|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:
|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:
Chemicals where a trade secret is claimed
|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:
|Section 5: Fire-Fighting Measures|
This section provides recommendations for fighting a fire caused by the chemical. The required information consists of:
|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:
|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:
|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:
|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:
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:
|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:
|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:
|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:
|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:
|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:
|Section 16: Other Information|
|This section indicates when the SDS was prepared or when the last known revision
The SDS may also state where the changes have been made to the previous version.
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: http://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html.
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: http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/statestandards.html.
This is one in a series of informational briefs highlighting OSHA programs, policies or standards. It does not impose any new compliance requirements. For a comprehensive list of compliance requirements of OSHA standards or regulations, refer to Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations. This information will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. The voice phone is (202) 693-1999; teletypewriter (TTY) number: (877) 889-5627.
1 Chemical, as defined in the HCS, is any substance, or mixture of substances.
2 Found in the most recent edition of the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.
3 MARPOL 73/78 means the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto, as amended
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U.S. Department of Labor www.osha.gov (800) 321 OSHA (6742) DSG BR-3514 2/2012
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