Material Safety Data Sheet The Ultimate FAQ Guide 3

Material Safety Data Sheet: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

All information you’re looking for about material safety data sheet is in this guide.

So, if you have any question about material safety data sheet (MSDS), you will find the answer right here.

Keep reading to learn more.

What Is An MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)?

Material safety data sheet

Material Data Safety Sheet.

This is a safety document that contains extensive details and comprehensive information regarding a particular product.

The material safety data sheet contains information relating to;

  • Emergency control measures.
  • Instructions for safe handling, storage, and use of these products.
  • Chemical properties
  • Physical properties.
  • Health effects as a result of exposure to these products.

You can write, print, or write the material safety data sheet and it must meet WHIMS legislation regulations.

This means it should meet content requirements, availability, and design.

What Is The Purpose Of An MSDS Sheet?

Purpose of MSDS

Purpose of MSDS

The main aim/purpose of the material safety data sheet is to provide all necessary information about a product that is under transportation.

This means transporting the product to only an authorized person and also safe handling.

Normally the content you find in these material safety data sheets varies depending on the nature of the product that manufacturers provide.

There is no limitation to the information you can include on the material safety data sheet.

The material safety data sheet also contains the following information;

  • The safe handling procedures.
  • The reactivity of the product. Storage of the product and proper disposal.
    This especially happens for hazardous products.
  • Physical properties of this product such as the boiling point.
  • The first aid procedures
  • The toxicity of the product.
  • Preventative measures.

Which Product Need Material Safety Data Sheets?

It is important to have a material safety data sheet for all the potentially hazardous chemicals. This is a recommendation by the OSHA hazard communication standard.

OSHA communication sysmbolsOSHA Communication symbols

Additionally, the safety data sheet ensures that all employees working in environments with chemical hazards have all information.

This allows them to safely use, handle and store these chemicals appropriately.

Under the model work health and safety, there is no need of preparing the material safety data sheet.

Some of the documents you do not need to prepare include;

  • Hazardous chemicals in portable fire-fighting or medical equipment for use in workplaces.
  • Portable liquids that are consumer products at premises of work.
  • Therapeutic products at the point of international intake by or administration to humans.
  • Fuel in fuel containers of a domestic or portable fuel-burning appliance where the quantity of fuel does not exceed 25 liters.
  • Chemicals in batteries while you incorporate them in a plant.
  • Products made out of tobacco products.
  • Veterinary chemicals at the point of administration to animals.

When Were MSDS Introduced?

During the nineteenth century, facts have determined the manufacturers were supplying some sort of datasheet to clients.

The issuing of this datasheet would either be by demand or tagging along with the client’s products.

This means the first parameters of MSDS have been dealt with.

A good example of the earliest MSDS has been written by the valentine and company of 1906.

During this period, it was hard to reconstruct the MSDS due to the following factors;

  • Existence of information on manicures files on early datasheet which they seem too reluctant to part with it.
  • The constant habits of chemists to dispose of old datasheets while new ones appear.

What Are The Sections Of MSDS?

The original version of the material safety data sheet contains so many formats as the manufacturers would find.

This as result confuses and lost time in the event the employees in them the most.

To cab, these regulatory authorities prescribe the use of a 16-section format.

These regulatory authorities include OSHA and Globally harmonized system structure of safety data sheets.

Below is a breakdown of sections of the material safety data sheet;

Section 1 to 8 of the safety data sheet contains more critical information on;

  • Emergency times
  • Manufacturer and the response emergency contact.
  • Hazard details.
  • Chemical composition.
  • Safe handling practices as well as emergency control measures.

Example fire-fighting.

Section 9,11 and 16 normally contains technical information which is inclusive of;

  • Chemicals and physical properties.
  • Reactivity and stability information.
  • Exposure control information.

Section 12 to 15 contains information on;

  • Environmental impacts.
  • Product disposal considerations.
  • Transport and regulatory information.

The numbering and heading of these sections should remain with high consistency that the globally harmonized system structure of SDS format.

How Do I Get An MSDS Sheet?

You can request or acquire the material safety data sheet for the supplier, manufacturer, or the importers of hazard chemicals.

Most cases, manufacturers and suppliers produce the material safety data sheet electronically where you can access them on their websites.

Supply of material safety data sheets to workplaces can be done under the following conditions;

  • When you first supply hazardous chemicals to a workplace.
  • First-time supply of hazardous chemicals after the amendment of the material safety data sheet.

The supply of hazardous chemicals to workplaces occurs for the first time every five years.

When Is The Manufacturer Supposed To Supply An MSDS?

Manufacturers should include information on hazardous chemicals on the material safety data sheet.

The manufacturer will supply these MSDS to customers if it is their first time purchasing the product.

This allows the user to be aware of possible accidents and preventative measures to take.

Is There A Difference Between An MSDS And SDS?

Safety data

Safety data

There are the various distinctive differences you find between the material safety data sheet and safety data sheet.

These differences include;

MSDS is a safety document that contains comprehensive information regarding a certain product.

SDS is a document that works in alignment with a globally harmonized system.

It requires manufacture, distributors, and imports to downstream users.

Material safety data sheet comes in a different format making it hard to impose regulations. Hears, using the safety data sheet makes it easier for employees to find the information they need regarding the chemicals.

There is no review of the MSDS making it hard for the employees to interpret.

The SDS is simpler and more effective as a result of OSHA standardization allowing it to work with globally harmonized system.

This allows the employees to quickly find the information they need about the chemical.

The safety data sheet is user-friendly and contains standards such as the use of a 16-section format.

Unlike the MSDS which have only 9 sections which have a great variance in structure and information.

The safety data sheet uses signal words such as warning, danger to provide instructions to the employees.

On the other handmade does not use any signal words.

Where Can I Find MSDS And SDS On The Internet?

There are several internet sites that you can find material safety data sheets and safety data sheets.

They include;

  • SDS pro
  • ChemExper
  • University of Akron
  • Conform-Action Data System.
  • Chemical safety software
  • MSDS online by VelocityESH.

The above is just the general internet sites.

You can look further on internet websites such as

  • Government and non-profit sites.
  • Chemical manufacturers and supplier’s sites.
  • Pesticides (insecticide, nematicides, fungicides) including fertilizers sites.

Can I Re-Use An MSDS In Shipping HAZMAT?

HAZMAT is also known as a hazardous material.

These are solids, liquids, or even gas that can cause harm to humans, organisms, property if they are not kept well.

Such materials include batteries, perfume, and paint among others.

You can use the same material safety data sheet recurrently if the shipment of the hazardous materials is still the same.

For instance, you can re-use the MSDS for lithium batteries in various ways as long as you use the same lithium batteries.

You will need to provide the material safety data sheet for every single shipment to prove there are no changes in the hazardous material.

You should ensure proper packaging, labeling and provide all the documentation.

These documentations guarantee the shipping of these hazardous materials.

How Do I Manage Material Safety Data Sheet?

The hazard communication standard requires that you provide all employees with information about chemicals they interact with.

To manage material safety data sheet ensure you;

  • Maintain hazard communication program that entails the plans in place of handling these chemicals.
  • Maintain a written chemical record of the hazardous chemicals available in the facility.
  • Ensure proper labeling and proper warning signs that associate with the chemicals you regard to be hazardous.
  • Provide training to employees on the chemical hazards and the available necessary precaution measures.

Are MSDS And SDS Interchangeable?

Yes, the Material safety datasheet and safety data sheet are interchangeable.

MSDS comes in different formats and styles amongst them being the 8 section OSHA material safety data sheet.

A globally harmonized system mandates the use of a single GHS format for safety data sheets contain 16 sections in an ordering format.

The sole purpose of both the MSDS and SDS is unchangeable.

They provide information on occupational health and the safety of using certain products or substances.

If you looking for information on products and what to do in case of exposure as a result of spillage, check on MSDS and SDS.

The globally harmonized system safety data sheet format is almost identical to that of the ANSI, even though there is a little modification.

Standard 16 section MSDS

Who Establishes the Requirements for MSDS And SDS?

The requirements for material safety data sheet and safety data sheet varies with regions.

For instance, the MSDS requirements vary from source to source in a country depending on national requirements.

But with the safety data sheet, the format requirement is standard internationally.

For instance, in Canada, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System is responsible for establishing the SDSs

Are There Exemptions To MSDS And SDS Rules And Regulations?

Material safety data sheet and safety data sheet rules and regulations govern only products that meet the definition of being hazardous.

Additionally, these hazards are present in the workplaces and the employees are at greater risk due to these products’ exposure.

Anything else that does not pose an occupational health threat is exempt from MSDS and SDS rules and regulations.

The following are some of the items that exempted from the MSDS and SDS;


This means items that have already been manufactured.

These articles contain features such as;

  • The article is made of specific shapes and designs during manufacturing.
  • It has end-user functionality depending on part or whole shape or design during the end usage.
  • Article douse not release or result to exposure to hazardous chemicals on normal conditions

If any products that meet the definition of the article are exempt from these rules and regulations.

A good example is a copper electrical wire you find in most hardware they fit the definition of the article therefore, no need for SDS.

Unlike the copper wire ingots that are under shipment to the manufacturer do not meet the definition of the article and require SDS.

Food, Food Additives (Colors And Flavors), And Alcoholic Beverages.

Food and alcoholic beverages are exempt from the MSDS and SDS rules and regulations.

The most common ones are the ones we sell, use or prepare in retail establishments such as drinking places or grocery stores.

Additionally, food meant for employee consumption while in the workplace is also exempt from these rules and regulations.

Note, if on normal conditions the product results in hazardous exposure for employees handling the product, then there is a need for MSDS and SDS.

For instance, flour dust has a high possibility of explosion hazard therefore there is a need for MSDS and SDS.


Packaging of cosmetic products for consumer personal use or use in a retail establishment is exempt from MSDS and SDS rules.

This means is have a retail supermarket selling prepackaged cosmetics you do not need MSDS and SDS rules.

However, if you are selling in local salon shops you will need MSDS and SDS rules and regulations.

Drugs And Pharmaceuticals

There is an exemption of drugs under food and drug administration.

This means all solid drugs such as pills or tablets that you can directly administer to patients’ is an exemption by the FDA is the drug is;

  • In the solid form which you can administer directly to patients.
  • Packaging of drugs by chemical manufactures for sale to the consumer with retail establishments.
  • Drugs that are meant for consumption by the employees while still in the workplace such as first aid supplies.

If you are a pill manufacturing company you will need MSDS and SDS rules and regulations.

Tobacco And Tobacco Plant

Normally, the HazCom standards do not have any regulations on tobacco and tobacco plants.

Therefore, the material safety data sheet and safety data sheet rules are not applicable.

Hazardous Waste And Remediation

The Hazcom standards do not apply for;

Hazardous waste is a definition found in the solid waste disposal act.

Hazardous Substance.

Ensure proper labeling of these products to help your account for the waste materials.

For instance, a pant bottle with labeling unused thinner paint needs MSDS and SDS.

But if the labeling reads hazardous material it means its already a waste product

Wood And Lumber

HazCom standards do not apply to wood or wood products such as lumber.

This is because the manufacture cannot process it there are reasons of hazard such as combustion.

Wood preservatives pose a possible hazard therefore there is a need for MSDS and SDS rules and regulations.

What Is The Minimum Amount Of Material That Requires An MSDS?

Comunication requirements

Communication requirements

The Hazcom standards do not have any specifications of the minimum amount of material that requires MSDS.

Normally, chemicals contain high concentration that is more dangerous even for an expose of a milligram.

You will find other chemicals with no these hazard effects.

It’s hard to sit down and determine the potential risk/toxicity of chemicals of over 114,000 chemicals compounds and their mixture.

With the exemption of only chemicals that release small quantities.

This means only a small trace is detectable from the hazardous chemicals when in use under normal conditions.

More so, the immediate emergency is a result of employees being exposed to these hazardous chemicals.

When determining the amount, it can also be relatively very low but cause great harm to the employee.

For instance, the release of gas content from the cylinder poses a high danger this is per the OSHA standards.

It states the release of ammonia gas as little as 2 ounces requires MSDS regulations.

In conclusion, you will require a material safety data sheet in all cases unless there is no like hood of any harm.

Who Can Write An MSDS?

Ideally, anyone is capable of writing the material safety data sheet.

To achieve this, you need to fill out all the OSHA requirements elements under Hazard Communication Standard.

Another determinant is whether you have enough skills to write a complete and accurate material safety data sheet.

With the implementation of the hazard communication standard 2012, there are tremendous changes such introduction of;

  • pictograms
  • Precautional statements
  • Signal words among others.

You can also hire professionals if you want MSDS that is a more complex one and also to reduce the hassle of writing without any knowledge.

Additionally, you can outsource the material safety data sheet if you are cannot capable of producing one that meets OSHA requirements.

What Should An MSDS Look Like?

MSDS hold contains all the relevant information despite the differences in structure organization.

It should contain hazardous information, recommendable exposure limits, physical properties, control methods and comply with regulations.

MSDS should be simple and easy to understand.

To achieve this avoid using jargon words that will confuse you.

Additionally, MSDS should contain accurately complete and up-to-date information.

What Language Does An MSDS Need To Be In?

Most of the countries have regulations regarding which language the material safety data sheet should be in.

The language should be the native language that the countries use.

For instance, in the U.S they use English; therefore, the MSDS should be in English.

The distributor or manufacturer of the product is responsible for writing the MSDS in the native language of that country.

This allows easy interpretation of the information by the employees working in workplaces with a high risk of exposure to these chemicals.

Are MSDSS Copyrighted?

It’s very hard to determine if the material safety data sheet is copyrightable.

Mostly, manufacturers or distributors must issue the MSDSs to employees at no cost.

This criterion reduces the need for copyrighting material safety data sheets.

With the OSH standards in place, a standard format and language are a necessity on the MSDS. This makes it impossible to have copyright enforcement.

It’s possible to argue that MSDS contain facts that do not guarantee enforceable copyright.

Provision of the MSDS for free by the manufactures makes it hard for them to prove if they experience a major blow.

This means someone else can use the idea without getting authorization from the manufacturer.

Inclusion of any original ideas or artwork on the MSDS requires you to copyright to prevent theft

Do I Need To Keep Copies Of MSDS S And SDSs?

You should keep all copies of the material safety data sheet and safety data sheet for the chemicals you have in the facility.

These copies of documents should be accessible to the employees who use, handle and store these chemicals.

Also, the emergency service employees or any other employee should have access to these copies easily.

There is a restriction on when to provide access to the material safety data sheet and safety data sheet copies.

This is under the Model WHS Regulations.

You should not give access to MSDS and SDS when;

  • Hazardous chemicals are under shipping.
  • If you have retail business and the hazardous chemical is a consumer product for supply. This means you shouldn’t open this chemical product.
  • Hazardous chemicals are consumer products with information on quantity usage, especially on household usage.

Do I Have To Use A Hardcopy Or Are Computer-Based MSDS S Acceptable?

Both of these options are acceptable by the hazard communication standard.

This permission comes with a condition of no hindrance should occur whether the employee is trying to access the copies.

The paperless compliance method is recommendable under the OSHA standards.

Because it’s performance-based just as the Hicom standards.

The OSHA standards require;

  • MSDS should be readily accessible to the employee with no hindrances.
  • Provide training to the employees on the use of these devices including available software.
  • Availability of adequate backup systems and written plans for use in case of emergency such as online access delays.
  • The system of electronic access which is a requirement in hazard communication program.
  • The immediate accessibility of hardcopy information by workers or response team if need be.

What Are The Penalties For Non-Compliance To MSDS Requirements?

Normally, full compliance to set standards involves employees dealing with the hazardous chemical have ease of access to MSDS information.

Failure to these results in serious violations such as;

  • Failure to provide the necessary material safety data sheet.
  • Failure to provide MSDS DURING THE TIME OF SHIPPING.
  • Failure to provide MSDS upon request.
  • Failure to make the MSDS readily available to the employees.
  • Failure to provide system back up especially when using the electronic access method to MSDS.

The maximum penalty by OSHA regulations for serious violations ranges from $7,00 to $12,471.

For willful violation, the penalty set by OSHA is $70,000 to $124,709.

How Can I Confirm The Accuracy Of An MSDS?

To check and confirm the accuracy of the material safety data sheet follow the following procedure;

  • Contact the manufacture and request for more accurate MSDS.
  • Ask the employer to obtain a more accurate MSDS.

The employer has the obligation of providing accurate MSDS to the employees.

They can request accurate MSDS from the manufacturer or the supplier.

  • Look out for the substance on the internet to get accurate information.
  • Contact your union for assistance in confirming the accuracy of the material safety data sheet.
  • Check on the hazardous chemical information system.

How Often Should MSDSs Be Reviewed?

Review of the MSDS normally takes place after every three years.

Availability of new information before elapsing of the 3 years requires the supplier to update MSDS and product label.

Unavailability of new information at the end of three years requires the supplier to;

  • Review the material safety data sheet.
  • Review the label for accuracy.
  • Revision of the MSDS where necessary.
  • Revise the preparation dates of the material safety data sheet.

Do Material Safety Data Sheet for Dangerous Goods and HAZMAT Need Official Approval?

Hazmat symbolsHAZMAT Symbols

Yes, official approval is mandatory for MSDS for dangerous goods and HAZMAT.

For instance, you will find food and food products are not exempt under hazard communication standards.s

This means if under normal condition use, these products result in hazard exposure to employees using it there is the involvement of MSDS rules.

Do Material Safety Data Sheet Expire?

OSHA requirements for the manufacturer or suppliers are to write or outsource material safety data sheets.

This is inclusive of all hazardous chemicals they import or produce.

The MSDS you be in the first shipment of these products.

If there is any update on the MSDS it should be sent within 3 months of the new information regarding the hazardous chemicals.

From the above information, it’s clear MSDS do expire.

This expiration is dependent on new information regarding hazardous chemicals.

How Often Does MSDS Need to Be Updated/Replaced?

Update of the material safety data sheet depends on whether you are a manufacturer or an end-user.

If you are a manufacturer the following are the OSHA requirements you should adhere to regarding updates of MSDS;

When writing the MSDS ensures all the information is the same as the scientific evidence behind the classification of the chemicals.

If there is new information you should include it on the MSDS.

This may include new preventative measures or new chemical hazards.

This update takes place after every three months.

If you are an end-user, you have the responsibility of always having the latest version.

This information should be readily available to all the employees in workplaces.

If you do not have the latest version, request your supplier to issue one to you.

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