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Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)

The Minnesota Employee Right-to-Know standard requires employers to provide written information on all hazardous substances that employees routinely use in the performance of their jobs. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are one source of information. They provide substance specific information such as: physical hazards, health hazards, routes of entry, exposure limits (if any), precautions for safe handling and use, spill clean-up procedures, personal protective equipment to be used, emergency and first aid procedures, and the name, address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer. Labels, technical bulletins, package inserts, on-line product information data bases, product hot lines, and company customer and technical service departments are some other sources of product information.

Employees must have ready access to MSDSs for the products they use. Select the “BSU MSDS Data Base” link at the left to view and download or copy MSDSs for products commonly used by Bemidji State University employees. Many manufacturers and suppliers have MSDSs for products they make and sell available on the Internet. Links  to product manufacturers and other sources of MSDSs can be accessed by selecting the “MSDS Resources” link, at the left.

Contact your supervisor or Environmental, Health & Safety if you are unable to access an MSDS for products you use or if you have questions about the information in a MSDS.

Material Safety Data Sheet Description

Manufacturers of chemical products are required to provide Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on those products. A MSDS describes the hazards of a material and provides information on how the material can be safely handled, used, and stored. A MSDS is organized into several sections of information about the chemical. Though the exact format and number of sections may vary from supplier to supplier, every MSDS will include thephysical hazards, health hazards, routes of entry, exposure limits , precautions for safe handling and use, spill clean-up procedures, personal protective equipment to be used, emergency and first aid procedures, and the name, address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) developed a standard (Z400.1-1993) to assist with the format and preparation of MSDSs. The purpose of this standard is to provide information in a consistent manner and to make it easier to find information regardless of the supplier of the MSDS. This ANSI standard is a recommendation only and MSDS preparers are not required to follow this format. It is used here to help illustrate the type of information you will find in an MSDS. Our MSDSs may not follow this same format. The following list describes the 16 sections of the ANSI MSDS standardized format.

Section 1: Chemical Product and Company Identification

This section links the chemical name on the label to the MSDS. The MSDS also lists the name, address and the phone number of the company, manufacturer or distributor who provides the chemical.

Section 2: Composition, Information or Ingredients

This section must identify all the hazardous ingredients of the material. This section may also include OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) and ACGIH (American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists) Threshold Limit Values (TLVs).

Section 3: Hazard Identification

This section discusses the health effects one may encounter when exposed to the material. The section will describe the appearance of the material, the potential health effects and symptoms associated with exposure, routes of entry, target organs that could be affected, and so on.

Section 4: First Aid Measures

This section will describe possible first aid procedures for each route of entry. The procedures will be written so that untrained individuals can understand the information.

Section 5: Fire-Fighting Measures

This section will describe information on the fire and explosive properties of the material, extinguishing items, and general fire-fighting instructions.

Section 6: Accidental Release Measures

This section gives information on how to respond when a material spills, leaks or is released into the air. This information may include how to contain a spill or the types of equipment that may be needed for protection.

Section 7: Handling and Storage

This section discusses information on handling and storage of the material. Topics that could be described are: general warnings to prevent overexposure, handling procedures, and hygiene instructions to prevent continued exposure.

Section 8: Exposure Controls and Personal Protection

This section discusses engineering controls and personal protective equipment that would help reduce exposure to the material. The necessary personal protective equipment should be considered for eye/face protection, skin protection and respiratory protection.

Section 9: Physical and Chemical Properties

This section will include information about the physical and chemical properties of the material. The following characteristics should be detailed: appearance, odor, physical state, pH, vapor pressure, vapor density, boiling point, freezing/melting point, solubility in water and specific gravity or density. Indicate if these characteristics do not apply to your material.

Section 10: Stability and Reactivity

This section requires that potentially hazardous chemical reactions be identified. It addresses chemical stability, conditions to avoid, incompatibility with other materials, hazardous decomposition and hazardous polymerization.

Section 11: Toxicological Information

This section discusses data used to determine the hazards that are given in Section 3, "Hazard Identification." The following information can be addressed: acute data, carcinogenicity, reproductive effects, target organ effects, etc.

Section 12: Ecological Information

This section will help determine the environmental impact should the material ever be released into the environment.

Section 13: Disposal Considerations

This section gives important information that may be helpful in the proper disposal of the material. The information can cover disposal, recycling and reclamation.

Section 14: Transport Information

This section is designed to give basic shipping information. The basic shipping information could include: the hazardous materials description, hazard class and the identification number (UN or NA numbers).

Section 15: Regulatory Information

This section discusses information on the regulations under which the material falls. Examples of a few regulatory agencies are: OSHA, TSCA (Toxic Substance Control Act), CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act), SARA Title III (Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act).

Section 16: Other Information

This section should include any other important information concerning the material. This information can include: hazard ratings, preparation and revisions of the MSDS, and label information.