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Course 705 - Hazard Communication Program

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Safety Data Sheets

Safety Memos: SDS Top 10 Things to Know.

What's a Safety Data Sheet (SDS)?

The safety data sheet (SDS) is used to communicate chemical hazard information from the manufacturer to the employee. This is the information needed to inform and train employees on the safe use of hazardous chemicals. The employer is required to have an SDS for each hazardous chemical product they use. This module will examine the SDS and the requirements for maintaining an effective SDS system. So, let's get going.

Check out this short audio clip by Dan Clark of the that asks five important questions about SDSs.

Who must have them?

  • Chemical manufacturers and importers must obtain or develop a SDS for each hazardous chemical they produce or import. Employers that mix chemicals that result in an interaction may be considered to be manufacturers and required to develop a SDS for the new chemical. If the chemicals in the mixture do not interact, the employer may be able to use the existing SDSs for each chemical in the mixture. Check with OSHA if you have questions about mixing chemicals in your workplace.

  • Employers must have a SDS in the workplace for each hazardous chemical which they use.

1. Who is responsible for obtaining or developing a safety data sheet (SDS) for each hazardous chemical they produce?

a. Employers
b. Employees
c. Manufacturers
d. Distributors

Next Section

The SDS Form

Keep SDSs in a binder that is easy to find.

Let's take a look at the SDS form, itself. Some of the terms in each section link to additional information. You can check out the "Glossary" tab on the course home page for general information on terms you may not be familiar with. I'll detail important points related to each SDS section and then show you an example that illustrates those points. So, let's start the review.

The chemical manufacturer or importer preparing the safety data sheet must ensure that it is in English (although the employer may maintain copies in other languages as well).

The SDS must include the information as specified in 1910.1200, Appendix D, Table D.1 under the section number and heading indicated for sections 1-11 and 16. If no relevant information is found for any given subheading within a section, the SDS shall clearly indicate that no applicable information is available. Sections 12-15 may be included in the SDS, but are not mandatory. Note: Not all sections are mandatory: only sections 1-11 and 16. Remember that because it's on the exam!

Let's review each of the 16 sections in the sample SDS in the next few sections:

Sample GHS Safety Data Sheet

1. Identification

Product Name: Chemical Stuff
Synonyms: Methyltoxy Solution
CAS Number: 000-00-0
Product Use: Organic Synthesis
Manufacturer/Supplier: My Company
Address: Any Street, Mytown, TX 00000
General Information: 555-123-4567
Transportation Emergency Number: CHEMTREC: 800-424-9300

2. Hazards Identification

GHS Classification:

Health Environmental Physical
Acute Toxicity - Category 2 (inhalation), Category 3 (oral/dermal)
Eye Corrosion - Category 1
Skin Corrosion - Category 1
Skin Sensitization - Category 1
Mutagenicity - Category 2
Carcinogenicity - Category 1B
Reproductive/Developmental - Category 2
Target Organ Toxicity (Repeated) - Category 2
Aquatic Toxicity - Acute 2 Flammable Liquid - Category 2

Click here for an explanation of the hazard categories for GHS identification and labeling.

GHS Label:

Symbols: flame, skull and crossbones, corrosion, health hazard
Hazard Statements
Highly Flammable Liquid and Vapor.
Fatal if inhaled.
Causes severe skin burns and eye damage.
May cause allergic skin reaction.
Toxic if swallowed and in contact with skin
May cause cancer.
Suspected of damaging the unborn child.
Suspected of causing genetic defects.
May cause damage to cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, and gastrointestinal systems and liver and blood through prolonged or repeated exposure.
Toxic to aquatic life.
Precautionary Statements
Do not eat, drink or use tobacco when using this product.
Do not breathe mist/vapors.
Keep container tightly closed.
Keep away from heat/sparks/open flame. - No smoking.
Wear respiratory protection, protective gloves and eye/face protection.
Use only in a well-ventilated area.
Take precautionary measures against static discharge.
Use only non-sparking tools.
Store container tightly closed in cool/well-ventilated place.
Wash thoroughly after handling.

2. Which sections of the SDS are mandatory and must be included?

a. Sections 1-5 and 11
b. Sections 2-12 and 15
c. Sections 2-11 and 14
d. Sections 1-11 and 16

Next Section

The SDS Form (Continued)

3. Composition / Information on Ingredients

Component    CAS Number    Weight %
Methyltoxy       000-00-0       80
(See Section 8 for Exposure Limits)

4. First Aid Measures

Eye: Eye irritation. Flush immediately with large amounts of water for at least 15 minutes. Eyelids should be held away from the eyeball to ensure thorough rinsing. Get immediate medical attention.

Skin: Itching or burning of the skin. Immediately flush the skin with plenty of water while removing contaminated clothing and shoes. Get immediate medical attention. Wash contaminated clothing before reuse.

Inhalation: Nasal irritation, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, breathing difficulty, cyanosis, tremors, weakness, red flushing of face, irritability. Remove exposed person from source of exposure to fresh air. If not breathing, clear airway and start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Avoid mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Ingestion: Get immediate medical attention. Do not induce vomiting unless directed by medical personnel.

5. Firefighting Measures

Suitable Extinguishing Media: Use dry chemical, foam, or carbon dioxide to extinguish fire. Water may be ineffective but should be used to cool fire-exposed containers, structures and to protect personnel. Use water to dilute spills and to flush them away from sources of ignition.

Firefighting Procedures: Do not flush down sewers or other drainage systems. Each exposed firefighter must wear a NIOSH-approved positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus with full-face mask and full protective clothing.

Unusual Fire and Explosion Hazards: Dangerous when exposed to heat or flame. Will form flammable or explosive mixtures with air at room temperature. Vapor or gas may spread to distant ignition sources and flash back. Vapors or gas may accumulate in low areas. Runoff to sewer may cause fire or explosion hazard. Containers may explode in heat of fire. Vapors may concentrate in confined areas. Liquid will float and may reignite on the surface of water.

Combustion Products: Irritating or toxic substances may be emitted upon thermal decomposition. Thermal decomposition products may include oxides of carbon and nitrogen.

3. In which SDS section would you be directed not to flush a chemical down drainage systems?

a. Section 3. Composition/Information on Ingredients
b. Section 4. First Aid Measures
c. Section 5. Firefighting Measures
d. Section 6. Accidental Release Measures

Next Section

The SDS Form (Continued)

6. Accidental Release Measures

Keep unnecessary people away; isolate hazard area and deny entry. Stay upwind; keep out of low areas. (Also see Section 8).

Vapor protective clothing should be worn for spills and leaks. Shut off ignition sources; no flares, smoking or flames in hazard area. Small spills: Take up with sand or other noncombustible absorbent material and place into containers for later disposal. Large spills: Dike far ahead of liquid spill for later disposal.

Do not accidentally flush to sewer or waterways. Prevent release to the environment if possible. Refer to Section 15 for spill/release reporting information.

7. Handling and Storage

Handling - Do not get in eyes, on skin or on clothing. Do not breathe vapors or mists. Keep container closed. Use only with adequate ventilation. Use good personal hygiene practices. Wash hands before eating, drinking, smoking. Remove contaminated clothing and clean before re-use. Destroy contaminated belts and shoes and other items that cannot be decontaminated.

Keep away from heat and flame. Keep operating temperatures below ignition temperatures at all times. Use non-sparking tools.

Storage - Store in tightly closed containers in cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from heat, sources of ignition and incompatibles. Ground lines and equipment used during transfer to reduce the possibility of static spark-initiated fire or explosion. Store at ambient or lower temperature. Store out of direct sunlight. Keep containers tightly closed and upright when not in use. Protect against physical damage.

Empty containers may contain toxic, flammable and explosive residue or vapors. Do not cut, grind, drill, or weld on or near containers unless precautions are taken against these hazards.

8. Exposure Controls / Personal Protection

Exposure Limits

Component, Methyltoxy - TWA: 3 ppm (skin) - STEL: C 15 ppm (15 min.)

Engineering Controls: Local exhaust ventilation may be necessary to control air contaminants to their exposure limits. The use of local ventilation is recommended to control emissions near the source. Provide mechanical ventilation for confined spaces. Use explosion-proof ventilation equipment.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Eye Protection: Wear chemical safety goggles and face shield. Have eye-wash stations available where eye contact can occur.

Skin Protection: Avoid skin contact. Wear gloves impervious to conditions of use. Additional protection may be necessary to prevent skin contact including use of apron, face shield, boots or full body protection. A safety shower should be located in the work area. Recommended protective materials include: Butyl rubber and, for limited contact, Teflon.

Respiratory Protection: If exposure limits are exceeded, NIOSH approved respiratory protection should be worn. A NIOSH approved respirator for organic vapors is generally acceptable for concentrations up to 10 times the PEL. For higher concentrations, unknown concentrations and for oxygen deficient atmospheres, use a NIOSH approved air-supplied respirator. Engineering controls are the preferred means for controlling chemical exposures. Respiratory protection may be needed for non-routine or emergency situations. Respiratory protection must be provided in accordance with OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134.

4. In which SDS section would you be cautioned not to get the chemical in your eyes, on skin, or on clothing?

a. Section 6. Accidental Release Measures
b. Section 7. Handling and Storage
c. Section 8. Exposure Controls
d. Section 9. Physical and Chemical Properties

Next Section

The SDS Form (Continued)

9. Physical and Chemical Properties

Flashpoint: 2oC (35oF)

Autoignition Temperature: 480oC (896oF)

Boiling Point: 77oC (170.6oF) @ 760 mm Hg

Melting Point: -82oC

Vapor Pressure: 100.0 mm Hg @ 23oC

Vapor Density: 1.7; (Air = 1)

% Solubility in Water: 10 @ 20 deg C

Pour Point: NA

Molecular Formula: Mixture

Odor/Appearance: Clear, colorless liquid with mild, pungent odor.

Lower Flammability Limit: >3.00%

Upper Flammability Limit: <15.00%

Specific Gravity: 0.82g/ml @ 20oC

% Volatile: 100

Evaporation Rate (Water=1): 5(Butyl Acetate =1)

Viscosity: 0.3 cP @ 25oC

Octanol/Water Partition Coefficient: log Kow: 0.5

pH: 7, 8% aqueous solution

Molecular Weight: Mixture

10. Stability and Reactivity

Stability/Incompatibility: Incompatible with ammonia, amines, bromine, strong bases and strong acids.

Hazardous Reactions/Decomposition Products: Thermal decomposition products may include oxides of carbon and nitrogen.

11. Toxicological Information

Signs and Symptoms of Overexposure: Eye and nasal irritation, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, cyanosis, tremors, weakness, itching or burning of the skin.

Acute Effects:

Eye Contact: may cause severe conjunctival irritation and corneal damage.

Skin Contact: may cause reddening, blistering or burns with permanent damage. Harmful if absorbed through the skin. May cause allergic skin reaction.

Inhalation: may cause severe irritation with possible lung damage (pulmonary edema).

Ingestion: may cause severe gastrointestinal burns.

Target Organ Effects: May cause gastrointestinal (oral), respiratory tract, nervous system and blood effects based on experimental animal data. May cause cardiovascular system and liver effects.

Chronic Effects: based on experimental animal data, may cause changes to genetic material; adverse effects on the developing fetus or on reproduction at doses that were toxic to the mother. Methyltoxy is classified by IARC as group 2B and by NTP as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. OSHA regulates Methyltoxy as a potential carcinogen.

Medical Conditions Aggravated by Exposure: preexisting diseases of the respiratory tract, nervous system, cardiovascular system, liver or gastrointestinal tract.

Acute Toxicity Values

Oral LD50 (Rat) = 100 mg/kg

Dermal LD50 (Rabbit) = 225-300 mg/kg

Inhalation LC50 (Rat) = 200 ppm/4 hr., 1100 ppm vapor/1 hr

5. In which SDS section would you be informed of signs and symptoms of overexposure?

a. Section 9. Physical and Chemical Properties
b. Section 10. Stability and Reactivity
c. Section 11. Toxicological Information
d. Section 12. Ecological Information

Next Section

The SDS Form (Continued)

12. Ecological Information

LC50 (Fathead Minnows) = 9 mg/L/96 hr.

EC50 (Daphnia) = 8.6 mg/L/48 hr.

Bioaccumulation is not expected to be significant. This product is readily biodegradable.

13. Disposal Considerations

As sold, this product, when discarded or disposed of, is a hazardous waste according to Federal regulations (40 CFR 261). It is listed as Hazardous Waste Number Z000, listed due to its toxicity. The transportation, storage, treatment and disposal of this waste material must be conducted in compliance with 40 CFR 262, 263, 264, 268 and 270. Disposal can occur only in properly permitted facilities. Refer to state and local requirements for any additional requirements, as these may be different from Federal laws and regulations. Chemical additions, processing or otherwise altering this material may make waste management information presented in the SDS incomplete, inaccurate or otherwise inappropriate.

14. Transport Information

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

Proper Shipping Name: Methyltoxy

Hazard Class: 3, 6.1

UN/NA Number: UN0000

Packing Group: PG 2

Labels Required: Flammable Liquid and Toxic

International Maritime Organization (IMDG)

Proper Shipping Name: Methyltoxy

Hazard Class: 3 Subsidiary 6.1

UN/NA Number: UN0000

Packing Group: PG 2

Labels Required: Flammable Liquid and Toxic

6. In which SDS section is the chemical possibly designated a hazardous waste according to Federal regulations?

a. Section 13. Disposal Considerations
b. Section 14. Transport Information
c. Section 15. Regulatory Information
d. Section 16. Other Information

Next Section

The SDS Form (Continued)

15. Regulatory Information

U.S. Federal Regulations
Comprehensive Environmental Response and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA):
The reportable quantity (RQ) for this material is 1000 pounds. If appropriate, immediately report to the National Response Center (800/424-8802) as required by U.S. Federal Law. Also contact appropriate state and local regulatory agencies.

Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): All components of this product are included on the TSCA inventory.

Clean Water Act (CWA): Methyltoxy is a hazardous substance under the Clean Water Act. Consult Federal, State and local regulations for specific requirements.

Clean Air Act (CAA): Methyltoxy is a hazardous substance under the Clean Air Act. Consult Federal, State and local regulations for specific requirements.

Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) Title III Information:

SARA Section 311/312 (40 CFR 370) Hazard Categories:
Immediate Hazard: X
Delayed Hazard: X
Fire Hazard: X
Pressure Hazard:
Reactivity Hazard:

This product contains the following toxic chemical(s) subject to reporting requirements of SARA Section 313 (40 CFR 372)

Component    CAS Number    Maximum %
Methyltoxy       000-00-0       80

State Regulations

California: This product contains the following chemicals(s) known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm:

Component    CAS Number    Maximum %
Methyltoxy       000-00-0       80

International Regulations

Canadian Environmental Protection Act: All of the components of this product are included on the Canadian Domestic Substances list (DSL).

Canadian Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS):
Class B-2 Flammable Liquid
Class D-1-B Toxic
Class D-2-A Carcinogen
Class D-2-B Chronic Toxin
Class E Corrosive

This product has been classified in accordance with the hazard criteria of the Controlled Products Regulations and the SDS contains all the information required by the Controlled Products Regulations.

European Inventory of Existing Chemicals (EINECS): All of the components of this product are included on EINECS.

EU Classification: F Highly Flammable; T Toxic; N Dangerous to the Environment
EU Risk (R) and Safety (S)
R11: Highly flammable.
R23/24/25: Toxic by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed.
R37/38: Irritating to respiratory system and skin.
R41: Risk of serious damage to eyes.
R43: May cause sensitization by skin contact.
R45: May cause cancer.
R51/53: Toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.
S53: Avoid exposure - obtain special instructions before use.
S16: Keep away from sources of ignition - No Smoking.
S45: In case of accident or if you feel unwell, seek medical advice immediately (show the label where possible).
S9: Keep container in a well-ventilated place.
S36/37: Wear suitable protective clothing and gloves.
S57: Use appropriate container to avoid environmental contamination.

16. Other Information

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Ratings: This information is intended solely for the use of individuals trained in the NFPA system.

Health: 3
Flammability: 3
Reactivity: 0

Revision Indicator: New SDS

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is accurate to the best of our knowledge. ABC Inc. makes no warranty of any kind, express or implied, concerning the safe use of this material in your process or in combination with other substances.

7. In which SDS section would European Union (EU) risk and safety phrases be listed?

a. Section 13. Disposal Considerations
b. Section 14. Transport Information
c. Section 15. Regulatory Information
d. Section 16. Other Information

Next Section

SDS Management

Below are some more important requirements manufacturers, importers and distributors must meet:

The manufacturer or importer must:

  • Prepare one SDS that applies to all similar mixtures where complex mixtures have similar hazards and contents (i.e. the chemical ingredients are essentially the same, but the specific composition varies from mixture to mixture).

  • Ensure that the SDS information recorded accurately reflects the scientific evidence used in making the hazard classification.

  • Add new information to the SDS within three months after becoming aware of any significant new information regarding the hazards of a chemical, or ways to protect against the hazards.

  • If the chemical is not currently being produced or imported, add any new information to the material SDS before the chemical is introduced into the workplace again.

  • Provide an appropriate SDS with the initial shipment, with the first shipment after a SDS is updated, and as requested by the employer or distributor.

  • Provide SDSs with the shipped containers or send the SDSs to the distributor or employer prior to or at the time of the shipment.

8. After you are aware of significant new information about a specific chemical, how soon must you add it to the SDS?

a. Within 3 months
b. 9 months
c. Up to 1 year
d. 2 years

Next Section

SDS Management (Continued)

  • Ensure that SDSs, and updated information, are provided to other distributors and employers with their initial shipment and with the first shipment after a SDS is updated;

  • Provide SDSs with the shipped containers, or send them to the other distributor or employer prior to or at the time of the shipment;

  • Retail distributors selling hazardous chemicals to employers having a commercial account must:

    1. provide a SDS to such employers upon request, and
    2. post a sign or otherwise inform them that a SDS is available.

If an employer without a commercial account purchases a hazardous chemical from a retail distributor not required to have SDSs on file (i.e., the retail distributor does not have commercial accounts and does not use the materials), the retail distributor must provide the employer, upon request, with the name, address, and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer, or distributor from which a SDS can be obtained.

Chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors need not provide SDSs to retail distributors that have informed them that the retail distributor does not sell the product to commercial accounts or open the sealed container to use it in their own workplaces.

  • Wholesale distributors selling hazardous chemicals to employers over-the-counter must:

    1. provide a SDS upon the request of the employer at the time of the over-the-counter purchase, and
    2. post a sign or otherwise inform such employers that a SDS is available.

9. The wholesale distributor must do each of the following EXCEPT _____.

a. providing a SDS within 30 days of the employer purchase
b. providing the SDS at the time of purchase by the employer
c. providing a SDS upon request by the employer
d. posting a "SDS Available" sign or otherwise informing the employer

Next Section

Employer Responsibilities

  • Employers must obtain a SDS from the chemical manufacturer or importer as soon as possible if the SDS is not provided with a shipment that has been labeled as a hazardous chemical.

  • Employers must maintain copies of the required SDSs in their workplace for each hazardous chemical, and must ensure that SDS are readily accessible during each work shift to employees when they are in their work area(s).

  • Electronic access and other alternatives to maintaining paper copies of the SDS are permitted as long as no barriers to immediate employee access in each workplace are created by such options. Make sure employees know how to quickly access SDS information that is stored on computers or online.

  • Where employees must travel between workplaces during a workshift, i.e., their work is carried out at more than one geographical location, the SDSs may be kept at the primary workplace facility. In this situation, the employer must ensure that employees can immediately obtain the required information in an emergency.

  • Employees who work at more than one site during the work shift must be able to obtain SDS information immediately (within seconds) in an emergency.

SDSs may be kept at the primary workplace facility, as long as the employer can ensure quick access to this information.
  • SDSs may be kept at the primary workplace facility, as long as the employer has a representative available at all times to ensure ready access (within a few minutes) to this information. This is the only situation in which an employer is allowed to transmit hazard information via voice communication. The employer must address in the written hazard communication plan how SDS information will be conveyed to remote worksites.

  • SDSs may be kept in any form, including operating procedures, and may be designed to cover groups of hazardous chemicals in a work area where it may be more appropriate to address the hazards of a process rather than individual hazardous chemicals.

10. Where may the safety data sheets be kept when employees travel between workplaces during a shift?

a. May be kept anywhere
b. Must be in the cab of the truck
c. May be kept at the primary workplace facility
d. Must be filed in a computer

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again by returning to this page.

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