Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
It is the manufacturer’s (or supplier’s) responsibility to provide the appropriate information on each MSDS and include it with the initial shipment or first shipment after an MSDS is updated. Current MSDSs are often available for immediate download from a manufacturer’s Web site. The date of receipt and last use of a product should be recorded. Marking the date of last use may be beneficial should insurance claims or lawsuits arise.
When a product is received that contains a label indicating there is a hazard, an employer must obtain an MSDS for that chemical. The MSDS must be readily available upon request by employees, designated representatives, the assistant secretary of labor for OSHA and the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. MSDSs must be readily accessible during each work shift to all employees in their work areas. MSDSs may be kept at a central location at the company’s primary workplace or at the central office, provided employees can obtain the required information in an emergency. Because quick action is important in an emergency, it is recommended that a copy of the compliance program and applicable MSDSs be maintained at each work site.
OSHA requires MSDSs to be in English and, at a minimum, include the following information:
PRODUCT IDENTIFICATION – The name of the product, trade name or synonym, or chemical name used on the label. (single substance or mixture)
PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS – This information includes characteristics of a chemical, such as its vapor pressure or flash point.
PHYSICAL HAZARDS – The chemical’s potential for fire, explosion or reactivity must be set out such as:
- Flash point-the temperature at which the chemical gives off enough vapor that, when mixed with air, will ignite if an ignition source is introduced. Examples of ignition sources are sparks, matches, hot kettles and radiating heat.
- Extinguishing media-the material-whether water, firefighting foams, dry chemical, dry powder or carbon dioxide-that will put the fire out, along with those that are ineffective at extinguishing a fire of this type.
- Special firefighting procedures-this information is only for firefighting professionals with specialized training and special firefighting PPE. These procedures should not be attempted by a non-trained individual.
- Unusual fire and explosion hazards-information regarding incompatibilities or the substance’s reactivity with other substances.
HEALTH HAZARDS – This information should set out the signs and symptoms of exposure to the hazardous chemical and any medical conditions that may be aggravated by exposure to the chemical.
PRIMARY ROUTES OF ENTRY– Chemicals may enter the human body through different means, such as inhalation (breathing in the vapors); ingestion (swallowing the chemical); injection (by some mechanical means under the skin); or absorption (skin contact). Although all these methods can occur in a workplace situation, some are less likely than others. Chemicals can be ingested accidentally through contact with food or drink and material can be injected by mishandling of pressurized equipment like airless sprayers.
OSHA (PEL) Permissible Exposure Limit – This information details exposure limits, called PELs, set by OSHA and other entities detailing the quantity of a chemical that a person can be exposed to without suffering ill effects. Some manufacturers may include Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for chemicals. These are limits developed by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). It represents the maximum amount of a substance that someone can be exposed to without experiencing any effects. The TLV can be expressed in three ways:
- as time- weighted average (TWA), based on an eight-hour exposure;
- as a short-term exposure limit (STEL), based on a 15-minute exposure;
- as a ceiling (C), which is an instantaneous exposure that, when reached, means the exposure cannot be repeated for the rest of the day.
(NTP) National Toxicology Program – If a chemical is listed in the NTP Annual Report on Carcinogens or has been listed as a potential carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer or OSHA, that information must be part of the MSDS for the chemical.
PRECATIONS – Safe handling and use precautions known to the manufacturer must be included in the MSDS. This includes hygienic practices, protective measures during repair and maintenance of contaminated equipment, and spill and leak cleanup procedures.
CONTROL MEASURES– Engineering controls, work practices and PPE generally applicable to the use of the chemical and known to the manufacturer must be set out.
EMERGENCY AND FIRST-AID PROCEDURES– First-aid treatment for exposure must be set out.
DATE– The date the MSDS was prepared or last revised must be stated on the MSDS.
CONTACT INFORMATION– The name, address and telephone number of the preparer or distributor of the MSDS who can provide additional information on the chemical and appropriate emergency procedures to be followed must be included.
EXCLUSIONS– The standard excludes a number of particular materials from all requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard. Materials excluded from the requirements are:
- Hazardous waste under EPA, to include Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
- Hazardous substances being remediated or removed
- Tobacco and tobacco products
- Wood and wood products (Note: Not exempt are wood or wood products that have been treated with a substance considered hazardous under this standard and may be sawed or cut or might otherwise generate dust.)
- Articles-that is, items-such as asphalt shingles that are manufactured and formed to a specific shape or design, which have specific end-use functions dependent upon their shape or design and do not release any hazardous substances under normal use (Note: Steel l-beams may not fit this definition because welding on steel releases a byproduct.)
- Food or alcoholic beverages for consumption
- Drugs, including over-the counter items
- Cosmetics and consumer products
- Ionizing and non-ionizing radiation
- Biological hazards
These items do not need MSDSs nor should they be included in the hazards communication program.