An MSDS or Material Safety Data Sheet is a technical document containing detailed and comprehensive information on the potential hazards related to health, fire, reactivity, emergency, and environmental issues. MSDS is an essential health and safety program that focuses on safe working with chemicals, hazardous materials, medical waste, or other toxic materials. The material data sheet provides all the hazard or safety information on the storage, use, handling, and emergency procedures of the material. These are mostly prepared by the manufacturer or supplier of the product and tells about the hazardous effects of the chemical, their safe usage procedure, handling information in case of accidents, etc. MSDS follows the requirements of WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) legislation, Canada, and OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standards (HCS). The main purpose of this document is to assist employees in understanding and interpreting this type of information.

As per the requirement of the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), the manufacturer, distributor, or importer of chemical products should provide Material Safety Data Sheets for each hazardous chemical to all downstream users. This MSDSs are specific to each individual chemicals covering all reasonably anticipated uses of the material. The information furnished in an MSDS is normally general in nature but is organized into either 9 or 16 sections.

Suppliers and Employers Responsibilities related to MSDS

It is the responsibility of the chemical suppliers to obtain or develop an MSDS for each product to be used in a workplace. They must ensure that the MSDS for the specific product contains the latest information during the time of sale (not older than 3 years).

Similarly, the employer should confirm that he receives an up-to-date latest MSDS from the supplier. They should maintain the MSDSs and ensure that a copy of the same is readily available for workplace. They need to train their employees regarding the procedures of safe use, storage, handling and disposal of those chemicals.

Difference between MSDS and SDS

Safety Data Sheet or SDS is the latest updated form of earlier MSDS. This transition from MSDS to SDS came into effect from May 2012 onwards. The main differences between SDS and MSDS are

  • SDS format provides more in-depth information as compared to MSDS and consists of sixteen sections providing specific information using a standardized classification method. Earlier MSDS used to have nine categories which have been replaced by 16 sections in SDS.
  • MSDS was mainly meant for Canada whereas SDS is applicable on a global level following a Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
  • By changing from MSDS to SDS, information is now produced in a standardized, user-friendly way.
  • With respect to the legal implications, An SDS adheres to all of the major regulations on hazardous material and is a safer document to use.

Contents of an MSDS

MSDS formats can vary from source to source within a country depending on national requirements. However, A material safety data sheet is normally organized into sixteen sections. Sections 1 through 8 gives general information regarding the chemical, their identification, composition, hazards, safe handling practices, and emergency control measures. While Sections 9 through 11 and 16 contain other relevant scientific and technical information. An MSDS is reviewed every three years.

MSDS Categories

There are nine categories in an MSDS that include the following:

  • MSDS Category 1-Product Information: product identifier (name), manufacturer and suppliers names, addresses, and emergency phone numbers.
  • MSDS Category 2-Hazardous Ingredients.
  • MSDS Category 3-Physical Data.
  • MSDS Category 4-Fire or Explosion Hazard Data
  • MSDS Category 5-Reactivity Data: information on the chemical instability of a product and the substances it may react with.
  • MSDS Category 6-Toxicological Properties: health effects.
  • MSDS Category 7-Preventive Measures.
  • MSDS Category 8-First Aid Measures.
  • MSDS Category 9-Preparation Information: who is responsible for preparation and date of preparation of MSDS.

SDS Sections

There are sixteen sections of any SDS. Those are:

  • SDS Section 1- Product and Company Identification: In this section, the product identifier of the hazardous substance and its recommended uses are mentioned. It must also include the name, address, and contact information of the manufacturer, importer, or other responsible parties.
  • SDS Section 2- Hazards Identification: The Hazards Identification section warns about the different ways of that chemical exposure and the harmful effects that it can have.
  • SDS Section 3- Composition/information on ingredients: This section provides information on the composition of the substance and trade secret claims associated with it.
  • SDS Section 4- First-Aid Measures: Necessary first aid information on accidental exposure of the chemical is mentioned in this section.
  • SDS Section 5- Fire-Fighting Measures: Recommendations for fire events caused by the chemical are provided in this section.
  • SDS Section 6- Accidental Release Measures: This SDS section provides guidance to minimize exposure to people or assets due to accidental spills, leaks, or releases.
  • SDS Section 7- Handling and Storage: Safe handling and storage recommendations are detailed in this SDS section.
  • SDS Section 8- Exposure Controls/Personal Protection: To minimize worker exposure, this SDS section provides information on the exposure limits, engineering controls, and personal protective measures.
  • SDS Section 9- Physical and Chemical Properties: Various physical properties like Appearance, pH, Odor, Flammability, Flash Point, Density, Viscosity, Ignition temperature, etc are mentioned in this section of the SDS.
  • SDS Section 10- Stability and Reactivity: Data related to the chemical stability and reactivity hazards of the chemical is described in this section.
  • SDS Section 11- Toxicological Information: Toxilogical and health impacts are mentioned in this section.
  • SDS Section 12- Ecological Information: This section guides with the information on the environment in case of release of the chemical.
  • SDS Section 13- Disposal Considerations: To reduce potential exposure, this section suggests proper disposal practices and safe handling methods.
  • SDS Section 14- Transport Information: Information related to transport hazard class, packing group number, bulk transportation, precautionary measures, etc are mentioned in this section.
  • SDS Section 15- Regulatory Information: Safety, health, and environmental regulations of the specific chemical is identified in this section.
  • SDS Section 16- Other Information: Information related to manufacturing dates, revisions, or any other useful information is added in this SDS section

Safety Data Sheets must be provided for:

  • Chemicals (substances and mixtures) that are considered hazardous in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008.
  • Substances that meet the criteria as persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT) or very persistent very bio-accumulative (vPvB) to the environment in accordance with REACH
  • Substances that appear on ECHA’s Candidate List of substances of very high concern (SVHC) for a reason other than either of the two points above
  • Mixtures (upon request of the downstream user/ distributor) which themselves are not classified under CLP but which contain at least one substance that is:
    • classified as hazardous to health or the environment above concentration limits set out in Article 31(3) of REACH;
    • a PBT or vPvB at a concentration ≥0.1% w/w;
    • on the Candidate List of SVHCs at a concentration ≥0.1% w/w for a reason other than either of the two points above;
    • assigned an EU limit value for exposure at the workplace (OELV).

Online Courses on MSDS and Safety

To learn more details about MSDS and Safety you can opt for the following courses. Click on the subject below and review the course first and then enroll for the course.

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Anup Kumar Dey

I am a Mechanical Engineer turned into a Piping Engineer. Currently, I work in a reputed MNC as a Senior Piping Stress Engineer. I am very much passionate about blogging and always tried to do unique things. This website is my first venture into the world of blogging with the aim of connecting with other piping engineers around the world.

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