MSDS / SDS FAQ

 

What is a Material Safety Data Sheet?
Who needs an MSDS sheet?
What is the minimum amount of material that requires an MSDS?
What does an MSDS look like?
Where can I get an MSDS safety sheet?
Who requires MSDS Material Safety Data Sheets?
Are any organizations exempt from OSHA MSDS regulations?
What is required on an MSDS sheet?
Do I need a new MSDS sheet for chemicals I create in the laboratory?
Can the identity of a chemical be withheld on an MSDS sheet?

What is a Material Safety Data Sheet?

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a document required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that contains data about the physical properties of a particular hazardous substance.

MSDS Material Safety Data Sheets are designed to provide workers and emergency personnel with proper procedures for handling or working with a particular hazardous substance.

Material Safety Data Sheets are created for a variety of materials including compressed gases, flammable and combustible liquids, oxidizing materials, poisonous or infectious material, corrosive material and dangerously reactive chemicals.

 

Who needs an MSDS sheet?

MSDS Material Safety Data Sheets are for employees who may be exposed to chemicals in the workplace, employers who need to know the proper methods for storing workplace chemicals, and emergency responders such as firefighters, hazardous material crews, emergency medical technicians, and emergency room personnel.

MSDS sheets reflect the chemical safety and hazard information one may need when working with chemicals in an occupational setting.

 

What is the minimum amount of material that requires an MSDS?

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard does not specify a minimum amount. Some hazardous substances are dangerous in even milligram quantities, while others are not.

The single exception for this is when the material can release only “very small quantities” or trace amounts of a hazardous substance under normal conditions of use or a foreseeable emergency.

An MSDS data sheet is required in almost every case unless there is essentially no way that the amount of hazardous material could cause harm.

 

What does an MSDS look like?

The formatting of Material Safety Data Sheets varies, but they contain the same kinds of basic information.

The United States is currently in the process of transitioning to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The globally harmonized system provides a basis for synchronization of MSDS Material Safety Data Sheets by specifying rules and regulations on hazardous substances at national, regional and worldwide levels.

To make the transition easier, MSDS Authoring Services has compiled a list of MSDS GHS transitioning tips. Click here to view GHS transition tips.

 

Where can I get an MSDS?

There are several resources available to find an MSDS data sheet. If you work with workplace chemicals, your laboratory or workplace will have a collection of MSDS safety sheets that came with the hazardous substances that you ordered.

MSDS data sheets may also be obtained from the distributor that sold you the material. If you need to create an MSDS sheet for a hazardous chemical, you may use a service provider such as MSDS Authoring Services. MSDS Authoring Services specializes in assisting companies with MSDS preparation including: authoring, auditing, writing and updating. The included standard MSDS preparation service includes the full creation of a 16-part ANSI compliant MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet (more than what is currently required by OSHA).

To learn more about various MSDS Authoring Services’ offerings, click here.

 

Who requires MSDS Material Safety Data Sheets?

Material Safety Data Sheets are required by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). According to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, OSHA MSDS data sheets are required to “ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are evaluated, and that information concerning their hazards is transmitted to employers and employees. This transmittal of information is to be accomplished by means of comprehensive hazard communication programs, which are to include container labeling and other forms of warning, Material Safety Data Sheets, and employee trainings.”

 

Are any organizations exempt from OSHA MSDS regulations?

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency which does not have jurisdiction over those employed by state, county, city or municipal governments.

 

What is required on an MSDS sheet?

The formatting of MSDS Material Safety Data Sheets varies from country to country, but they contain the same kinds of basic information.

Generally, an MSDS safety sheet is a nine-section document detailing the toxicity, use, storage, handling and emergency procedures of hazardous materials.

The United States is currently in the process of transitioning to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The globally harmonized system provides a basis for synchronization of Material Safety Data Sheets by specifying rules and regulations on hazardous substances at national, regional and worldwide levels.

 

Do I need a new MSDS sheet for chemicals I create in the laboratory?

You do not need a new MSDS safety sheet for chemicals created in your laboratory, unless you are planning to distribute these chemicals to others outside of your laboratory.

 

Can the identity of a chemical be withheld on an MSDS sheet?

Yes, the identity of a chemical may be withheld on an MSDS sheet as a trade secret. The criteria for a trade secret are very demanding and there are certain responsibilities that come with such a claim.

 

 

To learn more about MSDS Authoring Service’s trade protection agreements, click here.

 

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