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Introduction Sections of an SDS and Their Significance
OSHA Requirements Employer Responsibilities


The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a detailed information bulletin prepared by the manufacturer or importer of a chemical that describes the physical and chemical properties, physical and health hazards, routes of exposure, precautions for safe handling and use, emergency and first-aid procedures, and control measures. Information on an SDS aids in the selection of safe products and helps prepare employers and employees to respond effectively to daily exposure situations as well as to emergency situations.

The SDSs are a comprehensive source of information for all types of employers. There may be information on the SDS that is not useful to you or not important to safety and health in your particular operation. Concentrate on the information that is applicable to your situation. Generally, hazard information and protective measures should be the focus of concern.

This kit contains a glossary of terms used on SDSs. Some employers who are not very familiar with chemical terminology may find this helpful in reading and understanding SDSs.

OSHA Requirements

Employers must maintain a complete and accurate SDS for each hazardous chemical that is used in the facility. They are entitled to obtain this information automatically upon purchase of the material. When new and significant information becomes available concerning a product's hazards or ways to protect against the hazards, chemical manufacturers, importers, or distributors must add it to their SDS within three months and provide it to their customers with the next shipment of the chemical. Employers must have an SDS for each hazardous chemical used in the workplace. If there are multiple suppliers of the same chemical, there is no need to retain multiple SDSs for that chemical.

While SDSs are not required to be physically attached to a shipment, they must accompany or precede the shipment. When the manufacturer/supplier fails to send an SDS with a shipment labeled as a hazardous chemical, the employer must obtain one from the chemical manufacturer, importer, or distributor as soon as possible. Similarly, if the SDS is incomplete or unclear, the employer should contact the manufacturer or importer to get clarification or obtain missing information. A sample letter requesting this information is included in this kit.

When an employer is unable to obtain an SDS from a supplier or manufacturer, he/she should submit a written complaint, with complete background information, to the nearest OSHA area office. OSHA will then, at the same time, call and send a certified letter to the supplier or manufacturer to obtain the needed information. If the supplier or manufacturer still fails to respond within a reasonable time, OSHA will inspect the supplier or manufacturer and take appropriate enforcement action.

Sections of an SDS and Their Significance

As part of the Global Harmonized System, the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard specifies that each SDS be in English (employer may maintain copies in other languages as well); and includes the following section numbers and headings, and associated information under each heading, in the following order.

Section 1. Identification

  • Product identifier used on the label.

  • Other means of identification

  • Recommended use of the chemical and restrictions on use

  • Name, address, and telephone number of manufacturer, importer or other responsible party

  • Emergency Phone Number.

Section 2. Hazards Identification

  • Classification of the chemical in accordance with paragraph (d) of 1910.1200

  • Signal word, hazard statement(s), symbol(s) and precautionary statement(s) in accordance with paragraph (f) of 1910.1200. (Hazard symbols may be provided as graphical reproductions in black and white or the name of the symbol, e.g., flame, skull and crossbones).

  • Describe any hazards not otherwise classified that have been identified during the classification process

  • Where an ingredient with unknown acute toxicity is used in a mixture at a concentration >=1% and the mixture is not classified based on testing of the mixture as a whole, a statement that X%of the mixture consists of ingredient(s) of unknown acute toxicity is required.

Section 3. Composition/Information on Ingredients

Except as provided for in paragraph (i) of 1910.1200 on trade secrets:

For Substances:

    1. Chemical Name

    2. Common Name and synonyms

    3. CAS number and unique identifiers

    4. Impurities and stabilizing additives which are themselves classified and which contribute to the classification of the substance

For Mixtures:

In addition to the information required for substances:

The chemical name and concentration (exact percentage) or concentration ranges of all ingredients which are classified as health hazards in accordance with paragraph (d) of 1910.1200, and

  1. Are present above their cut-off/concentration limits; or,

  2. Present a health risk below their cut-off/concentration limits

The concentration (exact percentage) shall be specified unless a trade secret claim is made in accordance with paragraph (i) of 1910.1200, when there is batch-to-batch variability in the production of a mixture, or for a group of substantially similar mixtures with similar composition. In these cases, concentration ranges may be used.

For All Chemicals Where a Trade Secret is Claimed

Where a trade secret is claim in accordance with paragraph (i) of 1910.1200, a statement that the specific chemical identity and/or exact percentage (concentration) of composition has been withheld as a trade secret is required.

Section 4. First Aid Measures

  • Description of necessary measures, subdivided according to the different routes of exposure , i.e., inhalation, skin and eye contact, and ingestion.

  • Most important symptoms /effects, acute and delayed.

  • Indication of immediate medical attention and special treatment needed, if necessary.

Section 5. Fire-fighting measures

  • Suitable (and unsuitable) extinguishing media.

  • Specific hazards arising from the chemical (e.g., nature of any hazardous combustion products).

  • Special protective equipment and precautions for firefighters.

Section 6. Accidental Release Measures

  • Personal precautions, protective equipment, and emergency procedures.

  • Methods and materials for containment and cleaning up.

Section 7. Handling and Storage

  • Precautions for safe handling.

  • Conditions for safe storage, including any incompatibilities

Section 8. Exposure Controls/Personal protection

  • OSHA Permissible Exposure limits (PELs), American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Values (TLVs), and any other exposure limit used or recommended by the chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer preparing the safety data sheet, where available.

  • Appropriate engineering controls

  • Individual protection measures, such as personal protective equipment.

Section 9. Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Appearance (physical state, color, etc.)

  • Odor

  • Odor Threshold

  • pH

  • Melting point/freezing point

  • Initial boiling point and boiling range

  • Flash point

  • Evaporation rate

  • Flammability (solid, gas)

  • Upper/lower flammability or explosive limits

  • Vapor pressure

  • Vapor density

  • Relative density

  • Solubility(ies)

  • Partition coefficient; n-octanol/water

  • Auto-ignition temperature

  • Decomposition temperature

  • Viscosity

Section 10. Stability and Reactivity

  • Reactivity

  • Chemical stability

  • Possibility of hazardous reactions

  • Conditions to avoid (e.g., static discharge, shock, or vibration)

  • Incompatible materials

  • Hazardous decomposition products

Section 11. Toxicological Information

Description of various toxicological (health) effects and the available data used to identify those effects, including:

  • Information on the likely routes of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, skin and eye contact)

  • Symptoms related to the physical, chemical and toxicological characteristics.

  • Delayed and immediate effects and also chronic effects from short- and long-term exposure.

  • Numerical measures of toxicity (such as acute toxicity estimates).

  • Whether the chemical is listed in the National Toxicological Program (NTP) Report on Carcinogens (latest edition) or has been found to be a potential carcinogen in the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs (latest edition), or by OSHA.

Section 12. Ecological Information (Non Mandatory)

  • Ecotoxicity (aquatic and terrestrial, where available)

  • Persistence and degradability

  • Bioaccumulative potential

  • Mobility in soil

  • Other adverse effects (such as hazardous to ozone layer)

Section 13. Disposal Considerations (Non Mandatory)

Description of waste residues and information on their safe handling and methods of disposal, including disposal of any contaminated packaging.

Section 14. Transport Information

  • UN number

  • UN Proper shipping name

  • Transport Hazard class(es)

  • Packing group, if applicable

  • Environmental hazards (e.g., Marine pollutant (yes/no)

  • Transport in bulk (according to annex II or MARPOL 73/78 and the IBC code)

  • Special precautions which a user needs to be aware of, or needs to comply with, in connection with transport or conveyance either within or outside their premises.

Section 15. Regulatory Information

Safety, health, and environmental regulations specific for the product in question.

Section 16. Other information, including date of preparation or last revision

The date of preparation of the SDS or the last change to it.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers must ensure that each employee has a basic knowledge of how to find information on an SDS and how to properly make use of that information. Employers also must ensure the following:

  • Complete and accurate SDSs are made available during each work shift to employees when they are in their work areas.

  • Information is provided for each hazardous chemical:

Safety Data Sheet Checklist (PDF)

Sample Safety Data Sheet (PDF)

OSHA Quick Card - Safety Data Sheet (PDF)