What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?

  • A material safety data sheet is a technical document, which provides detailed and comprehensive information on a controlled product related to: 
  1. health effects of exposure to the product
  2. hazard evaluation related to the product’s handling, storage or use
  3. measure to protect workers at risk of exposure
  4. Emergency procedures.
  • It is a document that contains information on the potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity and environmental) and how to work safely with the chemical product.
  • It is an essential starting point for the development of a complete health and safety program.
  • They are a summary of the health hazards of the material and associated recommended safe work practices. Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are required by OSHA to be sent by chemical manufacturers to the purchasers of their chemicals.
  • It is important to ensure that MSDSs are readily available and accessible in the workplace, so that they can be easily located in an emergency, such as fire. when a potential or existing purchaser makes a request for an MSDS. The information in MSDSs must be kept current.
  • The data sheet may be written, printed or otherwise expressed, and must meet the availability, design and content requirements of WHMIS legislation.
  • The legislation provides for flexibility of design and wording but requires that a minimum number of categories of information to be completed and that all hazardous ingredients meeting certain criteria be listed subject to exemptions granted under the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act.

The Purpose of the MSDS :

  • The data sheet is the second element of the WHMIS information delivery system and is intended to supplement the alert information provided on labels.
  • The third element of the system is the education of employees in hazard information on controlled products, including instruction in the content and significance of information on the MSDS.

Responsibilities Related to the MSDS

a) Suppliers

  1. Develop or obtain a MSDS for each controlled product imported or sold for use in a workplace
  2. Ensure the MSDS for the controlled product: 

-Discloses information that is current at the time of sale or importation of the product 

-Was prepared and dated not more than three years before the date of sale or importation 

-Is available in both official languages

3. Ensure the purchaser of the controlled product has a copy of the current MSDS at the time of or prior to the purchaser receiving the controlled product

4. Make available any information that is considered confidential (trade secret) information and therefore exempt from disclosure to any physician or nurse who requests that information for the purpose or making a medical diagnosis or providing medical treatment

b) Employer

  1. Ensures that an up-to-date supplier MSDS is obtained from the supplier the first time a controlled product is received in the workplace
  2. Evaluates the data sheet received to determine its date of production. The data sheet must be dated within 3 years of current date
  3. Maintains up-to-date MSDSs:

c) MSDS Content :

  • Product Identification and Use.
  •  hazardous ingredients.
  •  Hazardous Identification
  •  First Aid Measures.
  •  Fire and Explosion Data.
  •  Accidental Release Measures
  •  Storage & handling
  •  Personal Protection
  •  Physical Data.
  •  Stability & Reactivity data.
  •  Toxicological Properties.
  •  Ecological Information
  •  Product Information
  •  Transportation & Information
  •  Regulatory Information
  •  Other Information

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