The Transition from MSDS to SDS Application

After rigorous training to master the Material Safety Data Sheet, workplaces have to work on yet another development in hazard labeling which is the GHS Safety Data Sheets. It is a labeling system which was created by United Nations and currently adopted by OSHA. Technically, OSHA has long been prepared for this transition however workplaces’ employees are not. But challenges to them will be lessened if they are equipped with necessary information to understand MSDS and SDS.

From the time GHS was established and adopted by OSHA, chemical suppliers and manufacturers are given until June 1, 2015 to complete their Safety Data Sheets or SDS. This means that there should be re-classification of all chemical products according to GHS criteria on health hazards. Although most manufacturers have already started with the transition, there are still considerable numbers of manufacturers who are not. This is why OSHA has to make sure that training of the employers to familiarize the SDS will take place consecutively.

MSDS vs. SDS

MSDS is a comprehensive document which contains the hazards of a chemical product, its correct usage, handling, and disposal. Throughout the existence of MSDS, many versions have come out and one of the most popular versions is OSHA, which originally follows an 8-section format. This version belongs to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard or HazCom.

However, the creation of GHS caused OSHA to shift into the standard 16-section format, thus creating the SDS. The latter is just a simplified format and more standardized version of MSDS.

16- Section version

Safety Data System has an easy-to-follow format because each section is arranged in a fixed order. This way, employers and workers will not have a hard time familiarizing the format during training and actual labeling. The arrangement of each section is as follows:

• Identification – included in this section are the distributor’s name, phone numbers, usage recommendations and restrictions.
• Hazards – detailed specifications on the labeling of elements and classification of chemical hazards.
• Ingredients identification – aside from chemical components, this section also includes secret trade claims.
• First-aid procedures – possible symptoms, effects, irritations, and medicinal measures.
• Fire – extinguishing measures – information about fire hazards and its precautionary measures.
• Accidental release – details protective measures, equipment, containment, and clean-up methods.
• Storage- instructions for handling and storing chemical products properly, including possible inconsistencies.
• Personal protection – Lists PPE (Personal Protective Equipment); TLV (Threshold Limit Value) and; PEL (Permissible Exposure Limit).
• Chemical properties
• Reactivity – informs users about possible adverse chemical reactions and incompatibility with other chemicals.
• Toxicological data – involves toxicity measurements

The remaining sections (ecological, disposal, transport, regulatory, and other information) are not strictly enforced in OSHA version because they are also implemented by other agencies.

There are many ways on how to familiarize this new system easily, but no strategy is better than training the employees to familiarize with its format and appoint a person who will be in-charged in the over-all transition phase. Technically, the first thing that should be done is the general inventory of all chemicals followed by the replacement stage. After all, workplaces and manufacturers were given considerable amount of time to be able to apply the SDS system.

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