Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) information requirements

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Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) Information Requirements

Every material controlled by WHMIS must have a MSDS accompanying it. While the WHMIS label on a controlled product gives workers crucial information about its potential hazards, MSDSs give a lot more information.  For an example of what an MSDS should look like, click here.

There are 54 required items on MSDSs and they fall into nine basic categories. No part of the MSDS can be left blank and suppliers may include even more information. A detailed description of all 54 items is available in the WorkSafeBC publication WHMIS at Work.

The nine basic categories are:

1. Product Information: including the name of the product and its intended use. This section should also provide information on how to contact the manufacturer and supplier for more information.

2. Hazardous Ingredients: a list of the chemical ingredients , their percentages and their toxicity data.

3. Physical Data: general information on the product’s physical and chemical properties such as specific gravity, boiling point and evaporation rate.

4. Fire and Explosion Hazard: a list of the conditions under which the product may catch fire or explode and how to minimize these hazards.

5. Reactivity Data: information about the chemical stability of a product and the substances it could react with.

6. Toxicological Properties: information about how the product could enter the body and the possible health effects of single or multiple exposures. It also indicates if the product is known to have any long-term health effects like cancer, kidney damage, sensitization or reproductive effects.

7. Preventive Measures: information on required and recommended PPE as well as instructions for safely cleaning up spills and how to safely use, handle, store, dispose of and transport the product.

8. First Aid Measures: instructions for the immediate treatment of a worker who has inhaled or swallowed the product or who has had skin or eye contact with it.

9. Preparation Information: the date the MSDS was prepared and who prepared it.

MSDSs are intended to provide enough information for workers to be able to use products safely, but they don’t always necessarily include very detailed health information. A health and safety specialist, occupational health nurse or family doctor can help to find more information.

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