OSEA Safety Blog

Reading Safety Data Sheets

Monday, July 1, 2019 Michele Pratt

In June 2016 OSHA implemented the program to have all SDSs’ (Safety Data Sheets) updated under GHS (Globally Harmonized System). Employers are required to have an SDS on hand for each hazardous chemical kept on site. If you come in contact with hazardous chemicals at work, you should have proper training to protect you and your co-workers while on the job.

What about other chemicals you encounter? At home have you ever looked up the SDS for your pesticides or cleaners you use around the house? There are sixteen sections to the new and improved version of the Safety Data Sheet and a brief description are as follows:

Section 1 – Product & Company Identification: Identifies the product under the Globally harmonized system and provides recommended use. The emergency phone number is also listed here.

Section 2 – Hazard(s) Identification: This section provides the chemical classification and any precautions that are associated with that category of hazard. It provides physical characteristics of material and any pictogram associated with the product being: corrosive, flammable, etc.

Section 3 – Composition/Ingredients: Provides the name of the chemical as well as any synonyms, any unique identifiers and the CAS number. Additionally, it includes information on mixtures and their concentrations. Any trade secret to this product is sited with the chemical identity and concentration it is comprised of.

Section 4- First Aid: Important if there are specifics regarding the properties of the chemical. For example, does it interact with water, or is it flammable?

Section 5- Fire-Fighting Measures: Gives information on what to utilize when extinguishing a fire involving the chemical.

Section 6- Accidental Release Measure: Provides personal precautions and appropriate personal protective equipment and appropriate methods and materials for cleaning up.

Section 7 – Handling & Storage: Explains precautions for safe handling and storage. Some precautions could include proper PPE and conditions for safe storage.

Section 8 – Exposure Controls/Personal Protection: Defines/explains various exposure limits which are related to the amount of time of the exposure as well as how concentration of chemicals affects human health.

Section 9 – Physical & Chemical Properties: What does the chemical look like – is it a blue slurry or a clear liquid? Does this chemical have an odor? It indicates items such as melting/freezing point, boiling and flashpoint, evaporation rate, flammability, solubility, density and vapor pressure to name a few. These items are important as it will determine if the chemical is spent or needs to be replaced.

Section 10 – Stability & Reactivity: What does the chemical react to, what should you not have it in close contact with?

Section 11 – Toxicological Information: How will this chemical effect you if you accidently get it on your skin, in your eyes or swallow it? Also, this section will indicate any long-term effects.

Section 12 – Ecological Information: Will this chemical contaminate the groundwater and is it biodegradable?

Section 13- Waste Disposal Consideration: Can I simply throw this in the trash or empty it down the drain?

Section 14- Transport Information: Is this a flammable liquid? What is the hazard class.? How is this material to be categorized and what type of plaquard is needed for transport?

Section 15 – Regulatory Information: How harmful is this chemical, does it need to be in a contained area and away from children?

Section 16 – Other Information: Should someone using this chemical be trained on how to deal with it or handle it correctly?

I challenge you in your next purchase of a cleaning product or pesticide to look up the Safety Data Sheets. Determine if what you are cleaning warrants the potential risk of chemicals that are toxic, flammable and are what would be considered dangerous to life and health. I’ve attached two below to use as an example. The more informed you have, the safer you will be.




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