Using MSDSs in training programs

Last month's column was a review of the legal responsibilities and some typical pitfalls that could lead to significant legal action by OSHA. In this column, we review the content of each of the 16 sections of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and how it can be used as an effective training program.

The MSDS plays many roles within a company. It is used to inform personnel of the dangers in their workplace. When dangerous materials are present, it allows employers to have proper protective devices in place. It also acts as a training tool and provides information to emergency response teams.

Lost time accidents have a significant impact on a company. The loss of a qualified employee, due to an accident, increases costs and reduces productivity. Many of these accidents are due to improper handling of materials. The MSDS is an ideal training tool, which if implemented, will reduce the risk of lost time accidents and the financial burden these accidents represent.

When using the MSDS as a training tool, it is important to have a qualified instructor who is capable of explaining the content of the document. A properly conducted training course helps employees understand how to use the document to determine what precautions are necessary, safety equipment required, handling techniques and how to respond in case of a spill or exposure. The benefits of such training is a workplace that has procedures and equipment in place and is capable of reacting properly in an emergency.

Every employee should know the location of the MSDS documents and how to access the information.

The training program should also provide a detailed review of the 16 sections that highlight the information that will be important to the activity they are performing.

Important information and the section containing the information:

Section 1 – Chemical product and company identification. Provides the name and manufacturer of the material. This is important because many materials have similar names but require different levels of protection and emergency response actions.

Section 2 – Composition ingredient information. Lists the hazardous components. In many cases, the material is a mixture of components and it is important to know all components.

Section 3 – Hazards identification. Provides an emergency overview of what to do if a spill occurs.

Section 4 – First aid measures. Lists first aid measures in case of exposure.

Section 5 – Fire fighting measures. Fire fighting guidance for immediate response and fire departments.

Section 6 – Accidental release measures. Accidental release measures, such as evacuations.

Section 7 – Handling and storage. Handling and storage, such as exposure to heat or light.

Section 8 – Exposure control / personal protection.

Section 9 – Physical and chemical properties. Lists properties that are important in working with the material.

Section 10 – Stability and reactivity. Highlights potential problems with mixing the material with others.

Section 11 – Toxicological information. Indicates implications of exposure.

Section 12 – Ecological information. Contains issues with release into air or water.

Section 13 – Disposal information. Indicates proper methods of removing the material.

Section 14 – Transport information. Indicates special placards and packaging.

Section 15 – Regulatory information. Contains information regarding international, federal and state requirements for providing information.

Section 16 – Other information. Provides a location for any additional information.

Hank Rahe is director of technology at Contain-Tech in Indianapolis. He has over 30 years' experience in the healthcare industry, as well as four years in academia. He is an expert in the areas of conventional and advanced aseptic processing. He is the past chairman of the board of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers, and is a member of the CleanRooms Editorial Advisory Board.


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