Skip to main content

As we’ve discussed previously, hazard communication violations rank No. 2 on OSHA’s list of violations. so clearly, OSHA will continue to take violations in this category seriously – as they should.

But an SDS can only mitigate risk if those exposed to and handling the hazardous materials know how to read and interpret them.

What Is Your SDS Telling You?

When working with hazardous materials, it is important to know the specific nature of the dangers that are posed by handling or being exposed to those materials. This also means it is important to identify and differentiate one hazardous material from another in order to effectively apply precautionary measures.

As such, knowing how to read an SDS proves paramount for managers, executives, and their employees.

Why It Matters

Although a full 16-section SDS is required by the Globally Harmonized System, not every section will address the same information that an employee or safety manager will need. And while SDSs are designed to be easily understood and provide easy-to-understand direction, they are not entirely simple either.

A working knowledge of the following sections can drastically improve their effectiveness and your ability to mitigate risks.

Section 1: Chemical Product and Supplier’s Identification

This section contains general information regarding the material and the supplier, including any means of identification for the product to give a point of reference between the label and the SDS, allowing a user to quickly find the proper SDS should it need to be accessed. This section also includes emergency contact information in the event of an emergency and recommended uses of the material or any uses recommended against.

Section 2: Hazards Identifications

This section identifies the risks and hazards associated with the material and communicates the ways in which the material may be dangerous, as well as some guidelines for safely using the material. This section also includes which elements need to be displayed on a label.

Section 3: Composition/Information on Ingredients

This section lists the chemical composition of the material, including the chemical name, CAS number, and concentration or concentration range of the hazardous chemicals, allowing the user to identify which chemicals are the principal contributors to the GHS Hazard Classifications. With this information, users can implement specific procedures or protective equipment to use to mitigate those risks.

Section 9: Physical and chemical properties

This section provides the descriptive physical and chemical properties of the material, such as density, appearance, odor description and threshold, water solubility, flashpoint, freezing/boiling point, pH and more. Such information allows the user to identify materials in cases of improper secondary container labeling or spills and make sure the product they are using matches the description given by the supplier.

SDSs are rich with critical, risk-mitigating information and provide essential knowledge pertaining to the product they accompany so a firm understanding of their different sections is essential. At GSM, we are constantly communicating with manufacturers to ensure SDS databases are always updated with our own standard and sourcing process for compliance. As your compliance partner, you can rest assured knowing that we are making risk mitigation a top priority so you can focus on your business.

Schedule a free demo to see how GSM can help you today!