What Is a Safety Data Sheet and Why Do You Need to Track Them?

Manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of chemical products have an obligation to workers to be transparent regarding chemicals in products. The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), requires reporting standards.

In 2015, HCS required that uniform reporting go into effect. What is a safety data sheet as we know it today, is a result of these updated changes.

Are you in a business that requires the use of a material safety data sheet? Keep reading to learn more about what an SDS is and why you need to track them.

What is a Safety Data Sheet and Where is it Used?

An SDS is an important component of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard handbook. It protects worker’s rights and ensures those working in occupations that deal with hazardous chemicals are informed about the products they work with and handle.

The SDS has 16 sections that must be covered. For an in-depth look, click here for the best online SDS resource.

Why do You Need One?

By law who is responsible for providing safety data sheets, is an important question. It applies to employers that manufacture chemicals. In addition, it covers companies that distribute these products and imports them, including transporters.

These companies need to meet these requirements because they have an obligation to ensure safety and avoid chemical hazards. They must verify they have trained their employees on chemicals being used and ensure they are handled safely. This includes proper storage.

What Requirements Must be Met?

The requirements for the SDS must include the following sections:

  • Identification
  • Physical and chemical properties
  • Hazard identification
  • Stability and reactivity
  • Composition / information on ingredients
  • Toxicological information
  • First-aid measures
  • Ecological information
  • Firefighting measures
  • Disposal considerations
  • Accidental release measures
  • Transport information
  • Handling and storage
  • Regulatory information
  • Exposure controls / personal protection
  • Other information

Each one of these sections has a specific purpose. You cannot omit any section. OSHA requires every party to present clear and accurate information.

How Often are SDSs Updated

Every SDS has a submission date. To remain up-to-date, regulations require updates to be submitted within three months of changes to chemical compounds or research results show there are new hazards or changes to how chemicals should be stored.

Updated SDSs do not have to be submitted to OSHA. However, companies are required to maintain records of the original SDS and any updated documents.

Although not required, it is recommended that corporate policies include steps to maintaining accurate and current records.

What Happens if a Business is Not in Compliance?

Chemical safety data sheets are part of your business compliance. Employees must have easy access to these documents and they must be readily available. Failure to comply can lead to hefty financial fines.

OSHA does verify that companies are in compliance with all safety requirements. They net millions of dollars annually in non-compliance fines.

Stay in Compliance

Understanding what is a safety data sheet is vital for industries directly dealing with chemical manufacturing and distribution. Stay in the know on the know for the latest information.

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