A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), or Safety Data Sheet (SDS) provides workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner, the SDS is the international form of the MSDS.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began requiring MSDS's for hazardous materials effective May 26, 1986 under 29 CFR 1910.1200, the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard . Then later revised in 2012 when OSHA adopted the Globally Harmonized System and started phasing in SDS's.

An MSDS is required to state the chemical's risks, safety, and effect on the environment. It is important to use an MSDS specific to both country and supplier, as the same product can have different formulations in different countries. The formulation and hazard of a product using a generic name may vary between manufacturers in the same country. MSDS formats can vary from source to source within a country depending on national requirements. The SDS is published in only one format. That format consists of a specific order and set of headlines.

SDS are required to provide the following information:

  • Section 1, Identification includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use; restrictions on use.
  • Section 2, Hazard(s) identification includes all hazards regarding the chemical; required label elements.
  • Section 3, Composition/information on ingredients includes information on chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.
  • Section 4, First-aid measures includes important symptoms/ effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.
  • Section 5, Fire-fighting measures lists suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.
  • Section 6, Accidental release measures lists emergency procedures; protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.
  • Section 7, Handling and storage lists precautions for safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities.
  • Section 8, Exposure controls/personal protection lists OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs); Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); appropriate engineering controls; personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Section 9, Physical and chemical properties lists the chemical’s characteristics.
  • Section 10, Stability and reactivity lists chemical stability and possibility of hazardous reactions.
  • Section 11, Toxicological information includes routes of exposure; related symptoms, acute and chronic effects; numerical measures of toxicity.
  • Section 12, Ecological information*
  • Section 13, Disposal considerations*
  • Section 14, Transport information*
  • Section 15, Regulatory information*
  • Section 16, Other information, includes the date of preparation or last revision.

*Note: Since other Agencies regulate this information, OSHA will not be enforcing Sections 12 through 15(29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2)).

The main purpose of the switch from the MSDS to the SDS is to create a simpler and more unified standard way to communicate the hazards of a chemical. Prior to the switch companies may have had MSDS in multiple formats with information on those formats in varied locations. By moving to a universal format it makes it easier for employees to find information on a chemical, it also lowers the burden for chemical manufactures. There is no requirement to keep old MSDS on file once you have obtained and SDS to replace it. However, employers may want to keep an electronic copy on file, especially if existing stocks of the chemical were purchased under the older MSDS.


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