A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is used by chemical manufacturers and importers to convey both the physical hazards (pH, flashpoint, flammability, etc.) and the health hazards (carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, etc.) of their chemicals to the end user.
MSDSs are a critical component of the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200(g)). This standard mandates that workers have a right to know what hazards are associated with the chemicals they use in the workplace. Both manufacturers of chemicals and employers with chemicals in their workplace, must be in compliance with this regulation as it is the most often cited violation by OSHA, with fines of more than $70,000 per violation per instance.
The OSHA MSDS format has the following required categories that must be on every MSDS:
Section I. Manufacturer's Name and Contact Information
Section II. Hazardous Ingredients/Identity Information
Section III. Physical/Chemical Characteristics
Section IV. Fire and Explosion Hazard Data
Section V. Reactivity Data
Section VI. Health Hazard Data
Section VII. Precautions for Safe Handling and Use
Section VIII. Control Measures
For the full text of OSHA's MSDS requirements, click here.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved an alternative format and published a standard Z400.1-1993, "American National Standard for Hazardous Industrial Chemicals-Material Safety Data Sheets-Preparation."
The 16 sections of an MSDS that are prescribed by the ANSI standard are as follows:
Section 1. Chemical Product & Company Information
Section. 2. Composition/Information on Ingredients
Section. 3. Hazards Identification
Section. 4. First Aid Measures
Section. 5. Fire Fighting Measures
Section. 6. Accidental Release Measures
Section. 7. Handling and Storage
Section. 8. Exposure Controls/Personal Protection
Section. 9. Physical and Chemical Properties
Section. 10. Stability and Reactivity
Section. 11. Toxicological Information
Section. 12. Ecological Information
Section. 13. Disposal Considerations
Section. 14. Transport Information
Section. 15. Regulatory Information
Section. 16. Other Information
While this is a recommended format, it is important to note that at a minimum, the OSHA required categories must be addressed in the MSDS as these are legally enforceable.