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HazCom: Reading an MSDS

The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for each hazardous substance in your work area tells you how to use, handle, and store the substance safely. Emergency and first-aid procedures are listed, as well.

Sample Material Safety Data Sheet.

Each MSDS may look a little different, but all give you the same basic information. This sample MSDS identifies the ten sections you are most likely to see.

  • Chemical Identification lists the name of the substance and the company that developed the MSDS. Also listed are hazardous components—by generic or specific name.

  • Composition identifies the ingredients that contribute to hazards or are considered hazardous by OSHA. Also listed are the chemical and common names of hazardous components.

  • Hazards describes the substance’s appearance, any hazards associated with emergency response situations, and potential health effects and symptoms of exposure.

  • First-aid Measures tells you about emergency procedures—steps that you can take before professional medical assistance is available.

  • Firefighting Measures lets you know the fire and explosive properties of the material, appropriate extinguishing devices, and basic firefighting guidelines.

  • Accidental-Release Measures tells how to contain and clean up a spill, leak, or other release.

  • Handling and Storage discusses safe practices that minimize contact between you and the substance. These guidelines include risks from fire or reactions with incompatible substances.

  • Exposure Controls and Personal Protection explains any engineering controls, such as proper ventilation, and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respiratory protection.

  • Physical and Chemical Properties identifies the substance’s characteristics, such as odor and boiling or melting points.

  • Stability and Reactivity describes conditions that could result in a hazardous chemical reaction. This might include contact and reaction with other substances, or environmental conditions to avoid.

 

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