MSDS-to-SDS: The GHS Standard

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The shift from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) occurred when OSHA updated their HazCom standards in 2012. Both communicate the same or similar safety information, just in different formats. When OSHA moved to align their hazard communication standards with GHS, that included moving from MSDS to an SDS. The shift was meant to standardize these sheets across industries.

What should be included in a safety data sheet?

An effective and often required component of a hazard communication program is the use of safety data sheets. In conjunction with a GHS label, the goal of an SDS is to provide more comprehensive information about a hazardous chemical or substance. OSHA has listed 16 requirements for a safety data sheet to be in compliance.

The following are the 16 components each SDS must have:

  1. Identification: This will identify for what chemical or substance the SDS is for. It will often contain information like chemical name, manufacturer, distributor, recommended uses, etc.
  2. Hazard information: This section will be a list of all hazards associated with the chemical as well as a list of any hazard label requirements including appropriate hazard pictogram(s), precautionary statements, and the corresponding signal word.
  3. Composition: This is where you will list the ingredient(s) contained in the substance including impurities and stabilizing additives. Any trade secret claims must also be listed.
  4. First aid measures: Give detailed information about first aid instructions in the case of someone being exposed to the chemical.
  5. Fire-fighting measures: If the chemical causes a fire, this section will have detailed information on how to extinguish the fire, the proper PPE for the situation, and more.
  6. Accidental release measures: This section should include instructions on what to do if there is an accidental release of the chemical and should have info on how to contain it, clean it up, and safety measures workers will need to take.
  7. Handling/Storage: This is a list of instructions (as well as precautions) for safe handling and storage of the chemical.
  8. Exposure control: This will need to follow OSHA’s permissible exposure limits and list measures and controls that work to minimize worker exposure.
  9. Physical/chemical properties: This section will identify both physical and chemical properties associated with the substance or mixture. It can include (but is not limited to) appearance, odor, vapor density, flammability, and more.
  10. Stability and reactivity information: Included in this section should be a list of chemical stability information and possible hazardous reactions that can occur.
  11. Toxicological information: Make a list of toxicological and health effects that are the outcome of exposure.
  12. Ecological information: In cases of accidental release, this section will have information on the impact this chemical will have on the environment, specifically if it gets into a water supply.
  13. Disposal information: Safety data sheets should include instructions on how to properly and safely dispose of the chemical.
  14. Transport considerations: This section should give instructions on how this chemical needs to be transported including identification numbers, environmental hazards, etc.
  15. Regulatory information: This section is used to identify safety, environmental, and health regulations specific to the chemical that is not indicated anywhere else on the safety data sheet.
  16. Other information: Indicate when the SDS was created and/or when the last known revision was made. Include other information you find useful.

The safety data sheets should have all 16 of the above points and it must appear in the order listed above. A workplace should either have a digital file or a physical binder of all their SDSs on hand and it should accessible to workers.

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