MSDSs defined

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that all employees be provided a safe work place by their employer (29 CFR Part 1910, et al – Hazard Communications; Final Rule ). To ensure employee safety, the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is used to provide information on workplace dangers as well as assist emergency repsonse teams.

the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is used to provide information on workplace dangers as well as assist emergency response teams.

In this column we review the 16 sections that make up the MSDS (see “Using MSDSs in training programs,” CleanRooms, August 1999, page 14) and how they can impact your company.

Section 1 – Chemical Product and Company Identification. Provides the name of the material and it's manufacturer. Includes a mailing address, fax and phone numbers.

Section 2 – Composition and Ingredients Information. Lists the components that make up the material. Individual components contribute to the hazard of the final mixture. In case of an allergic reaction, it is important to understand each component.

Section 3 – Hazards Identification. Lists the physical appearance of the material and immediate health and environmental hazards the material can create.

Section 4 – First Aid Measures. Describes the actions to be taken if an exposure occurs. Instructions for route of exposure, i.e. inhalation, skin, eye or ingestion must be provided. Instructions need to be simple and direct for the immediate actions, followed by more detail for professional medical assistance.

Section 5 – Fire Fighting Measures. Describes flammable properties in easily understood terms such as flash point, burning characteristics and unusual hazards upon combustion. This information is for both employees and professional fire fighters.

Section 6 – Accidental Release Measures. Contains instructions for emergency response teams and employees about what to do in case of leaks, spills or releases of the material. The purpose is to minimize the impact on people and the environment.

Section 7 – Handling and Storage. Provides information on safe handling techniques. This section would contain statements concerning employee protection, practices which minimize fire and explosion and creating dangerous reactions with other materials.

Section 8 – Exposure Controls and Personal Protection. Contains information on engineering controls to properly control the exposure risk. These controls are described in the containment Hierarchy of Technologies and should be matched with the material exposure limit. Alternate Personal Protective Equipment should also be provided.

Section 9 – Physical and Chemical Properties. Identifies the physical characteristics such as appearance, odor and density. Chemical characteristics such as solubility, pH and vapor pressure should also be included.

Section 10 – Stability and Reactivity. Describes potential reactive hazards required by OSHA. Should include physical conditions to be avoided such as heat or shock.

Section 11 – Toxicological Information. Contains information on toxicity testing and is intended for medical and occupational health professionals.

Section 12 – Ecological Information. Contains information to evaluate impact of exposure to plants and wildlife. The information also can be used to evaluate waste treatment.

Section 13 – Disposal Considerations. Provides information for waste management professional, including classification of materials laws such as RCRA.

Section 14 – Transport Information. Includes basic shipping classifications such as hazard class identification number.

Section 15 – Regulatory Information. Provides information on regulatory status of materials for international, federal and state requirement.

Section 16 – Other Information. Includes additional important information such as label text and cross reference materials.

by Hank Rahe

Hank Rahe is director of technology at Contain-Tech in Indianapolis. He has over 30 years' experience in the healthcare industry.


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