Material Safety Data
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a detailed information bulletin prepared by the
manufacturer or importer of a chemical that describes the physical and chemical
properties, physical and health hazards, routes of exposure, precautions for safe handling
and use, emergency and first-aid procedures, and control measures. Information on an MSDS
aids in the selection of safe products and helps prepare employers and employees to
respond effectively to daily exposure situations as well as to emergency situations.
MSDS/s are a comprehensive source of information for all types of employers. There may be
information on the MSDS that is not useful to you or not important to the safety and
health in your particular operation. Concentrate on the information that is applicable to
your situation. Generally, hazard information and protective measures should be the focus
- Your workplace is required to have Material Safety Data Sheets available for every
single hazardous chemical or substance you use or encounter as a part of your job.
- These must be readily available for employee review at all times you are in the work
place! In other words, they cannot be locked in an office or filing cabinet to
which you do not have access.
- If you request to see an MSDS for a product you use at work, and your employer cannot
show it to you, after one working day you may refuse to work with that product until you
are shown the correct MSDS.
- If you request your own personal copy of a Material Safety Data Sheet, your employer has
15 working days to provide it.
must ensure that each employee has a basic knowledge of how to find information on an MSDS
and how to properly make use of that information. Employers also must ensure the
and accurate MSDS/s are made available during each work shift to employees when they are
in their work areas.
is provided for each hazardous chemical.
of an MSDS and Their Significance
What Information is Provided on an MSDS?
and Explosion Hazard Data
or Leak Procedures
specifies the information to be included on an MSDS, but does not prescribe the precise
format for an MSDS. A non-mandatory MSDS form that meets the Hazard Communication Standard
requirements has been issued and can be used as is or expanded as needed. The MSDS must be
in English and must include at least the following information:
I. Chemical Identity
chemical and common name(s) must be provided for single chemical substances.
identity on the MSDS must be cross-referenced to the identity found on the label.
II. Hazardous Ingredients
- For a
hazardous chemical mixture that has been tested as a whole to determine its hazards, the
chemical and common names of the ingredients that are associated with the hazards, and the
common name of the mixture must be listed.
the chemical is a mixture that has not been tested as a whole the chemical and common
names of all ingredients determined to be health hazards and comprising 1 percent or
greater of the composition must be listed.
and common names of carcinogens must be listed if they are present in the mixture at
levels of 0.1 percent or greater.
components of a mixture that have been determined to present a physical hazard must be
and common names of all ingredients determined to be health hazards and comprising less
than 1 percent (0.1 percent for carcinogens) of the mixture must also be listed if they
can still exceed an established Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) or Threshold Limit Value
(TLV) or present a health risk to exposed employees in these concentrations.
III. Physical and Chemical Characteristics
physical and chemical characteristics of the hazardous substance must be listed. These
include items such as boiling and freezing points, density, vapor pressure, specific
gravity, solubility, volatility, and the product's general appearance and odor. These
characteristics provide important information for designing safe and healthful work
IV. Fire and Explosion Hazard Data
compound's potential for fire an explosion must be described. Also, the fire hazards of
the chemical and the conditions under which it could ignite or explode must be identified.
Recommended extinguishing agents and fire-fighting methods must be described.
V. Reactivity (Instability) Data
section presents information about other chemicals and substances with which it reacts.
Information on any hazardous decomposition products, such as carbon monoxide, must be
VI. Health Hazards
acute and chronic health hazards of the chemical, together with signs and symptoms of
exposure, must be listed. In addition, any medical conditions that are aggravated by
exposure to the compound, must be included. The specific types of chemical health hazards
defined in the standard include carcinogens, corrosives, toxins, irritants, sensitizers,
mutagens, teratogens, and effects on target organs (i.e., liver, kidney, nervous system,
blood, lungs, mucous membranes, reproductive system, skin, eyes, etc.).
route of entry section describes the primary pathway by which the chemical enters the
body. There are three principal routes of entry: inhalation, skin, and ingestion.
section of the MSDS supplies the OSHA PEL, the ACGIH TLV, and other exposure levels used
or recommended by the chemical manufacturer.
the compound is listed as a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by OSHA, the National
Toxicology Program (NTP), or the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), this
information must be indicated on the MSDS .
VII. Precautions for Safe Handling and Use
standard requires the preparer to describe the precautions for safe handling and use.
These include recommended industrial hygiene practices, precautions to be taken during
repair and maintenance of equipment, and procedures for cleaning up spills and leaks. Some
manufacturers also use this section to include useful information not specifically
required by the standard, such as EPA waste disposal methods and state and local
VIII. Control Measures
standard requires the preparer of the MSDS to list any generally applicable control
measures. These include engineering controls, safe handling procedures, and personal
protective equipment. Information is often included on the use of goggles, gloves, body
suits, respirators, and face shields.
must maintain a complete and accurate MSDS for each hazardous chemical that is used in the
facility. They are entitled to obtain this information automatically upon purchase of the
material. When new and significant information becomes available concerning a product's
hazards or ways to protect against the hazards, chemical manufacturers, importers, or
distributors must add it to their MSDS within three months and provide it to their
customers with the next shipment of the chemical. Employers must have a manufacturer
specific MSDS for each hazardous chemical used in the workplace.
MSDS/s are not required to be physically attached to a shipment, they must accompany or
precede the shipment. When the manufacturer/supplier fails to send an MSDS with a shipment
labeled as a hazardous chemical, the employer must obtain one from the chemical
manufacturer, importer, or distributor as soon as possible. Similarly, if the MSDS is
incomplete or unclear, the employer should contact the manufacturer or importer to get
clarification or obtain missing information.
an employer is unable to obtain an MSDS from a supplier or manufacturer, he/she should
submit a written complaint, with complete background information, to the nearest OSHA area
office. OSHA will then call and send a certified letter to the supplier or manufacturer to
obtain the needed information. If the supplier or manufacturer still fails to respond
within a reasonable time, OSHA will inspect the supplier or manufacturer and take
appropriate enforcement action.
Safety Data Sheet Checklist
you work in a laboratory or other situation where you create your own chemical solutions
or products for use in your workplace, you may need to write your own MSDS for the
product(s) you have created.
You must ensure that each MSDS you write contains the following information:
or chemical identity used on the label.
name and address
and common names of each hazardous ingredient.
address, and phone number for hazard and emergency information.
or revision date.
hazardous chemical's physical and chemical characteristics, such as vapor pressure and
hazards, including the potential for fire, explosion, and reactivity/instability.
permissible exposure limit (PEL), ACGIH threshold limit value (TLV) or other exposure
and first-aid procedures.
OSHA, NTP or IARC lists the ingredient as a carcinogen.
for safe handling and use.
measures such as engineering controls, work practices, hygienic practices or personal
protective equipment required.
routes of entry.
for spills, leaks, and clean-up.
Here is a look at a real MSDS
Click here to take the MSDS quiz (do not take if you
are doing the entire haz com module)
The Four Stages of OSU's Program
Material Safety Data Sheets
Labeling and Marking Systems
Employee Training Sessions
Written Right-to-Know Plan
Oklahoma State University, the office of Environmental Health and Safety may be contacted
to assist departments with their Hazard Communication and the required training.
Check out OSU EHS's online PPE Information
Library for additional information.