OSEA Safety Blog

5 Reasons to Review a Safety Data Sheet

Thursday, December 10, 2020 Brenda Griffin

5 Reasons to Review a Safety Data Sheet for a Chemical you are About to Work with

It’s not uncommon to believe that because you buy a chemical at a store, that it must be safe. Unfortunately, often that may not be the case!

In the workplace under the Hazard Communications standard, employees have the right to know the hazards of chemicals they work with and how to protect themselves from those hazards. This communication is done through making sure containers have Global Harmonized System compliant labels as well as a safety data sheet on file for each chemical used in the business.

Below are 5 reasons to review the safety data sheets for chemical you use:

  1. The chemical may be harmful to human health or the environment. This may sound like an obvious reason, yet too often employees only review safety data sheets during training and often only review one during the class and not all.
  2. The chemical may also present a physical hazard such as flammability or corrosivity. Other pertinent information regarding physical and chemical properties included vapor density and, specific gravity, and solubility.
  3. Reviewing first aid measure for any potential exposure is important, particularly for ingestion. The safety data sheet will identify whether to induce vomiting not because of aspiration hazards associated with vomiting. So, it’s important to look for this information rather than guess should there be an ingestion exposure.
  4. Permissible Exposure Limits are outlined on safety data sheets in section 8. This is important to review so you know the levels of hazards present so proper personal protective equipment can be properly selected, particularly for inhalation hazards and the need for respiratory protection along with any specific chemical protective clothing (suits and gloves) required.
  5. Signs and symptoms of exposure is also a reason to review a safety data sheet. The reason you have a headache may be due to an over exposure to a chemical – not because you drank to many margaritas the night before!

At the end of the day, it’s best to review safety data sheets prior to purchase to make sure you have proper personal protective equipment on hand, as well as a chance to inform employees of the hazards and all control measures in place to mitigate any hazards. That way, there are no surprises that you’re not fully equipped to handle in the event of a spill or release.

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