Hazard Communication: Safety Data Sheets (Important Details!)
According to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), businesses that import, manufacture and distribute chemicals have to maintain Standard Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). These are also known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) and these are invaluable in communicating hazards of products that contain dangerous chemicals. A SDS also explains the medical treatments required in case workers are overly exposed to chemicals and develop health issues. The sheet is supposed to be prepared by manufacturers and can be taken from the product suppliers either personally or from their websites.
- Identification refers to the name of the distributor or the manufacturer of the product in question. Other information that can be used as identification includes phone numbers, address, and recommendation/restrictions on use.
- All chemical hazards should be identified with labels.
- Information on chemical ingredients in the products should be mentioned clearly.
- First aid measures for all chemicals should be mentioned. This includes the effects of chemicals (delayed or acute) when they come in contact with skin and the treatment required.
- List appropriate fire extinguishing methods for chemical based fires along with the required equipment.
- Emergency procedures necessary to control accidental releases along with the required protective gear, containment methods and cleanup.
- Precautions for the safe handling and storage of chemical based products including incompatibilities.
- The SDS should be prepared according to the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) by OSHA, and Threshold Limit Values (TLVs). This can include other exposure limits preferred by the manufacturers, employers, distributors and importers along with personal protective equipment (PPE).
- The chemical and physical properties of the products and their characteristics.
- A list of possible volatile reactions that can prove hazardous.
- Toxicology data which should include routes of exposure along with toxicity levels and level of effects.
- All SDS sheets should include regulatory information, transportation information, disposal requirements and ecological information of all chemical based products.
The role of employersAll employers have to make sure that these sheets are accessible to their workers whenever they need them. They have the right to know about the hazards of the chemicals they are handling at work. The sheets should be distributed in all work areas either through a hard copy or in electronic form. Plus, employers should also keep a list of products in the workplace that are made of hazardous chemicals and a sheet should be available for all of them for workers. In summary, the first few sections of a SDS should include the following information:
- Information that explains the chemical based product and the ingredients it contains.
- Copies of the text mentioned on the label of the containers that detail product information along with hazards and the precautions needed.