What is MSDS?

A Material Safety Data Sheet, often referred to as an MSDS, holds pertinent information about the physical properties of a hazardous substance. However, the term MSDS has been changed to SDS, Safety Data Sheet, in recent years. This type of document is required by OSHA under the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) in 29 CFR 1910.1200(g). The regulation specifies that upon obtaining the product, the distributor, manufacturer, or importer must provide an SDS to the user to ensure information about safety procedures, precautions, and risks pertaining to the substance is known.

Before the MSDS format was changed there were 9 sections that addressed general safety information about the specified chemical substance. This old format was not regulated which resulted in several different versions available to the user. Those inconsistencies quickly became difficult to handle hence the need to reevaluate and change the requirements to the simpler and more effective Safety Data Sheet format. The information contained in SDS documents is more or less the same as an MSDS. However, SDS forms are more user friendly with a 16-section format that is always consistent.

The Elements of MSDS

The following sixteen sections in an SDS/MSDS are:

  1. Identification
  2. Hazard(s) Identification
  3. Composition/Information on Ingredients
  4. First-Aid Measures
  5. Fire-Fighting Measures
  6. Accidental Release Measures
  7. Handling and Storage
  8. Exposure Controls/Personal Protection
  9. Physical and Chemical Properties
  10. Stability and Reactivity
  11. Toxicological Information
  12. Ecological Information (non-mandatory)
  13. Disposal Considerations (non-mandatory)
  14. Transport Information (non-mandatory)
  15. Regulatory Information (non-mandatory)
  16. Other Information

SDS/MSDS documents are essential to the safety of employees in the workplace because the form has all the necessary information for proper handling and emergency situations. Without that information, the possibility of serious injury or death become a higher risk.


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