The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) (29 CFR 1910.1200(g)), revised in 2012, requires that the chemical manufacturer, distributor, or importer provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) (formerly MSDSs or Material Safety Data Sheets) for each hazardous chemical to downstream users to communicate information on these hazards. The information contained in the SDS is largely the same as the MSDS, except now the SDSs are required to be presented in a consistent user-friendly, 16-section format. This brief provides guidance to help workers who handle hazardous chemicals to become familiar with the format and understand the contents of the SDSs.
The SDS includes information such as the properties of each chemical; the physical, health, and environmental health hazards; protective measures; and safety precautions for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical. The information contained in the SDS must be in English (although it may be in other languages as well). In addition, OSHA requires that SDS preparers provide specific minimum information as detailed in Appendix D of 29 CFR 1910.1200. The SDS preparers may also include additional information in various section(s). Hazard Communication Standard: Safety Data Sheets
Sections 1 through 8 contain general information about the chemical, identification, hazards, composition, safe handling practices, and emergency control measures (e.g., fire fighting). This information should be helpful to those that need to get the information quickly. Sections 9 through 11 and 16 contain other technical and scientific information, such as physical and chemical properties, stability and reactivity information, toxicological information, exposure control information, and other information including the date of preparation or last revision. The SDS must also state that no applicable information was found when the preparer does not find relevant information for any required element.
The SDS must also contain Sections 12 through 15, to be consistent with the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), but OSHA will not enforce the content of these sections because they concern matters handled by other agencies. A description of all 16 sections of the SDS, along with their contents, is presented below.
GHS is a comprehensive approach to defining health, physical and environmental hazards of chemicals; creating classification processes that use available data on chemicals for comparison with the defined hazard criteria; and communicating hazard information, as well as protective measures, on labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs).
OSHA notes that GHS itself is not a regulation or a standard. The GHS standard establishes agreed hazard classification and communication provisions with explanatory information on how to apply the system. The elements in GHS supply a process for meeting the basic requirement of any hazard communication system, which is to decide if the chemical product produced and/or supplied is hazardous and to prepare a label and/or Safety Data Sheet as appropriate. Before GHS was created, there were several systems for documenting chemical hazards unique to each country; some worked well, and some didn’t. Few were compatible with each other. This led to wide confusion about what the hazards of a given chemical actually were, and how the material could be safely handled, used, and disposed. The GHS approach and its single, standardized SDS format aim to resolve these problems.
In the United States, the major implementation of GHS is in OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, published in 2012 and better known as HazCom 2012. These regulations can be found in 29 CFR 1910.1200. OSHA’s implementation is not identical to the standard as published by the U.N., but the two are similar enough that an SDS can easily match both systems at the same time. An example format for an SDS is given in Appendix D to the HazCom regulations.
While each of the sixteen sections needs to appear in the prescribed order, and needs to include the required information, there is no required format or presentation.
Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Fields List
Standard Identifying Fields
- Primary Manufacturer name, address, phone, emergency phone (secondary, distributor, supplier)
- Product name
- Revision date
- Product number/code
- Document format
- Hazard Statements
- Precautionary Statements
- Signal Word
- HMIS (health (including chronic), flammability, reactivity/physical hazard, personal protection)
- NFPA (health, flammability, reactivity/instability, special hazards)
- First Aid (eye, skin, inhalation, ingestion, other)
- PPE (eye, skin, inhalation, ventilation, other)
- Fire Fighting (extinguishing media)
- Handling & Storage
- Incompatible Chemicals
- Spill Measures
- Specific Gravity (value, additional information)
- Ingredients (name, CAS, %)
- Density (value, UOM, additional information)
- Chemical State (physical state and/or form)
- SARA Hazards (immediate (acute), delayed (chronic), fire, pressure, reacitvity
- Flash Point (value, test method, additional information)
- Boiling Point (value, additional info)
- pH (value, additional information)
- VOC (value, UOM, type, context)
- Percent Volatile (value, UOM)
- Vapor Density (value)
- Vapor Pressure (value, UOM, context)
- Evaporation Rate (value, reference material)
- DOT, IATA, IMDG* all contain
- options for: "not on sheet", "forbidden", "partial info", "not regulated"
- UN Number
- Proper Shipping Name
- Hazard Class
- Packing Group
- Additional Information
- Hazard Inducers
- *IMDG also contains Marine Pollutant