The safety data sheet (SDS), formerly known as a material safety data sheet (MSDS), is a general summary of safety information for a hazardous substance or material. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires manufacturers and importers of chemicals to develop an SDS for materials they provide to their customers. It is intended to provide workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner.
The SDS must include the chemical and common names of all ingredients that have been determined to be health hazards if they constitute 1% or greater of the product’s composition (0.1% for carcinogens). The SDS is typically broken into 16 sections which are:
- Identification of the substance/mixture
- Hazards identification
- Composition/information on ingredients
- First aid measures
- Firefighting measures
- Accidental release measures
- Handling and storage
- Exposure controls/personal protection
- Physical and chemical properties
- Stability and reactivity
- Toxicological information
- Ecological information
- Disposal considerations
- Transport information
- Regulatory information
- Other information
Users should always avoid any unnecessary chemical exposures and should never rely solely on SDS sheets to understand how to protect themselves from specific chemicals.
When looking for an SDS make sure to consider concentration and grade of the substance in question as this has a huge significance on the product's safety rating.
It is important to use an SDS specific to both country and supplier, as the same product (e.g. paints sold under identical brand names by the same company) can have different formulations in different countries. The formulation and hazard of a product using a generic name (e.g. sugar soap) may vary between manufacturers in the same country.
Formerly known as an MSDS, the name was shortened to SDS as part of the Global Harmonization System, which is an effort to standardize chemical labeling for the global marketplace that exists today.