Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) are a very important, mandatory aspect of the Hazard Communication Standard. MSDSs provide the employee with the information he/she needs to know about the hazards of materials being handled. In our school environment, where the employees themselves often make the decisions on what products to buy, MSDSs also provide a means of comparing similar products with safety in mind. Would you provide your students with a product that contains hazardous chemicals and requires them to wear rubber gloves when they use it? Or, would you rather use a product which will serve the same function, but is less hazardous and does not require the wearing of gloves? MSDSs can help you make this kind of decision.
It is the employer's responsibility to make these sheets available to employees. The employer must also provide training so employees can understand MSDSs. Employees must take responsibility for reading MSDSs if the intent of the Hazard Communication Standard is to be accomplished. MSDSs are often difficult to read and understand. The intent of this training is to help make the MSDSs understandable.
Although the Federal government requires MSDSs to contain specific information, there is no standard format. MSDSs from the same manufacturer may look similar to each other, but may look very different from MSDSs from another company. Before we get into the information that must be included on all MSDSs, click here for a list of MSDS terms and acronyms. This list is here as a reference. You do not need to memorize it, but you may find it useful.
All material safety data sheets must contain the following information. If the text is underlined, you can click on it for an explanation.