Safety Data Sheet (SDS) FAQ’s

Safety Data Sheet (SDS) FAQ’s

Barrett Pryce

Barrett Pryce

Marketing Manager

Barrett Pryce is the Marketing Manager with Vivid Learning Systems, an online safety training provider making life a little easier for safety professionals.

  1. What products require an SDS?
    • Any product that is considered a hazardous chemical requires a safety data sheet. A hazardous chemical, as defined by the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), is any chemical which can cause a physical or a health hazard. This determination is made by the chemical manufacturer, as described in 29 CFR 1910.1200(d).
  2. Where do SDSs come from?
    • Safety data sheets are created by the manufacturer and/or distributor of the hazardous chemical.  SDSs are updated by the chemical manufacturer or distributor within three months of learning of "new or significant information" regarding the chemical's hazard potential.
  3. What is the difference between an SDS and an MSDS?
    • There is no difference between an MSDS and an SDS, both are generic terms for safety data sheets. Under the transition to GHS standards, the term material safety data sheet was updated to safety data sheet.  Safety data sheets (SDS) typically refer to documents that are compliant with the GHS standard.
  4. What are the 5 elements of a written HAZCOM program?
    • There are 5 main elements to a Hazard Communication Program:
    1. Written Hazard Communication Program
    2. Inventory of hazardous chemicals and hazard assessment
    3. System for maintaining MSDSs
    4. Chemical labels and warning signs
    5. Training programs
  5. Can MSDSs be stored on a computer to meet the accessibility requirements of HAZCOM?
    • If the employee's work area includes the area where the MSDSs can be obtained, then maintaining MSDSs on a computer would be in compliance. If the MSDSs can be accessed only out of the employee's work area(s), then the employer would be out of compliance with paragraphs (g)(8) or (g)(9) [of the Hazard Communication Standard].
  6. What are the container labeling requirements under HAZCOM?
    • Under HCS, the manufacturer, importer, or distributor is required to label each container of hazardous chemicals. If the hazardous chemicals are transferred into unmarked containers, these containers must be labeled with the required information, unless the container into which the chemical is transferred is intended for the immediate use of the employee who performed the transfer.
  7. How Do I read an SDS?
    • If you need to read an SDS to find information for a given material, there are two steps for you to follow. First, find the right document; second, find the specific details you need.
    • Finding the right document should be easy. Every chemical manufacturer or importer must provide an SDS for any hazardous materials they sell, and OSHA requires that all workplaces in the United States keep an SDS for every hazardous chemical onsite. If you need to find an SDS, you can often search in the system for the applicable identifying information such as: product name, product code, trade name, synonym, etc.
    • Once you have an SDS, check the first section for the name and basic description of the material, to make sure that you are looking at the right information. The product identifier, or name of the material, should exactly match the name that appears on the material’s container. You’ll also want to ensure the SDS is up-to-date; the last part of the SDS (Section 16) will usually include the date of the document’s preparation, although this may also be printed at the top of the first page.
    • Once you know you have the right document, it’s time to find the right detail. Depending on what you need to find, you may look in different parts of the document. For example:
      • Identifying information about the material will be in Section 1: Identification
      • Details of the material’s hazards, and basic safety instructions, will be in Section 2: Hazard Identification
      • For first aid and medical response to exposures, see Section 4: First-Aid Measures
      • To respond to a spill or leak, look in Section 6: Accidental Release Measures