What is the difference between MSDS and SDS?

Material safety data sheets (MSDS) was the required documentation for hazardous chemicals before OSHA aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (GHS). After its adoption in 2012, businesses that handle, store, and use dangerous chemicals must follow the guidance specified for safety data sheets (SDS).

Prior to these major changes in the Hazard Communication Standard, the accompanying documentation generally had the same information but there was no consistency or universal standard—which can get tricky when dealing with trade barriers and receiving chemicals from other countries.

Sections of a Safety Data Sheet

There is a lot of useful information included in the SDS such as the chemical’s properties, safety precautions for handling, health hazards, and more. The following are the 16 sections outlined by GHS and OSHA:

  • Section 1: Identification
  • Section 2: Hazard(s) identification
  • Section 3: Composition/ingredients
  • Section 4: First-aid measures
  • Section 5: Fire-fighting measures
  • Section 6: Accidental release measures
  • Section 7: Handling and storage
  • Section 8: Exposure controls + personal protective equipment
  • Section 9: Physical and chemical properties
  • Section 10: Stability and reactivity
  • Section 11: Toxicological information
  • Section 12: Ecological information
  • Section 13: Disposal considerations
  • Section 14: Transport information
  • Section 15: Regulatory information
  • Section 16: Other important information

OSHA requires the SDS to include sections 1-8, as well as sections 12-15.

In addition to including the above sections when shipping chemicals, employers must make sure SDSs are available and readily accessible to employees. For instance, If a worker has a question about what PPE should be used when handling a certain hazardous chemical, they can easily find that information in the SDS.


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