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How to write a Material Safety Data Sheet

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Compiling an MSDS for each chemical in your workplace isn't just helpful for determining the way your business should respond to spills or leaks – it's also the quickest way to help avoid fines from OSHA in case of accident or inspection.

Whenever you’re working with a chemical, chemical compound, or chemical mixture, it’s important that you and anyone using these materials have access to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). MSDSs contain summaries of important information about a chemical product’s toxicity, flammability, and other potential hazards that the product may pose.

Compiling an MSDS for each chemical in your workplace isn’t just helpful for determining the way your business should respond to spills or leaks – it’s also the quickest way to help avoid fines from OSHA in case of accident or inspection.


These 16 sections more or less boil down to the following requirements:

• The Code of Federal Regulations specifies that MSDS must be developed for any hazardous chemicals that are in the workplace, as well as for any product that contains a product in a quantity of 1% or greater (or 0.1% if the chemical in question is carcinogenic).

• Each MSDS must also be written in English, as the unofficial language of the US. That said, some chemical manufacturers have also started to produce MSDSs in Spanish, which may be an appropriate additional step for your workplace.

• The ingredients contained in the chemical product must also be listed on the MSDS. In addition, there must also be a statement indicating which (if any) of the ingredients are known carcinogens or are known to be particularly hazardous.

There is also a standard format that can be bought from ANSI or downloaded at various locations throughout the internet for significantly less money. It is recommended that such a template be used in order to make your MSDS as official as possible.

Writing your own MSDS is not a very difficult or taxing process, and in practice, it is both legally mandatory and helpful in reducing hazards in the workplace. Using the above information, crafting a MSDS should not impose much of a burden on you or your coworkers.

In the case of new products, MSDSs are not available, so the manufacturer must write one. Under 29 CFR 1910.1200, a number of items must be explicitly outlined on a newly-written MSDS, all of which must be included on MSDS that you may be required to write. It has become the international norm to include each of the following 16 sections on a MSDS:

 
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

13.   Disposal considerations

14.   Transport information

15.   Regulatory information

16.   Other information

 
 
 
 
 
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