What is a material safety data sheet?


Quick Answer

A material safety data sheet describes specific hazards for a hazardous chemical to ensure proper handling in the workplace. The manufacturer, distributor or importer of the chemical provides the sheet to users per the Hazard Communication Standard, which was revised in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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Full Answer

The primary change in 2012 involved the format of the safety data sheets to create a consistent layout that is easy to understand, according to OSHA. The sheets contain 16 standard sections that break down the hazards so that those who handle them understand the potential risks.

The first eight sections cover basics of the chemical, including the ingredients, handling and storage, protection, and what to do in case of exposure or an accident involving the chemical, explains OSHA. Sections 9 through 11 describe the physical and chemical properties and how the chemical behaves. Sections 12 through 15 appear on the sheet, but they aren't required to contain information. The final section shows the preparation date or date the document was updated.

OSHA requires that employers keep the safety data sheets for all chemicals used in a location easily accessible to all employees. The sheets must be in English and may also be available in other languages, notes OSHA.

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