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What are Material Safety Data Sheets?

When you are working in an environment that contains hazards, it is important that you educate yourself in the nature of the hazards or toxins that are present, as well as the way that they are managed buy your employer. You may even have concerns about how they are being handled in your workplace and want to know more about the precautions that are in place.

The best resource for all of this information are the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). The MSDS are documents that are required and regulated by the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). Your employer has a duty to provide you with MSDS when you request them.

What information do MSDS contain?

MSDS have many different components, all used to specify the risk of a hazard and the precautions that are in place to control this hazard. The first component of the document is the identification of the hazard itself, including a description and any appropriate warning language and symbols that are associated with it.

The document will also include a more detailed description of the composition information, such as the concentration of the toxic substance within a material, as well as a complete list of all of the ingredients within the substance.

The document will then go on to lay out the safety precautions that are in place for that particular hazardous material. These might include the instructions for first-aid if a person becomes injured or the measures in place if a hazardous substance is accidentally released.

If you have concerns about the way that safety is managed in your workplace or if you are worried about a workplace accident, you have the right to address it with your employer and the appropriate authorities.

Source: OSHA, "Hazard Communication Standard: Safety Data Sheets," accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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