Managing the Risk associated with Hazardous Materials


The storage, issue, use, and disposal of flammable and combustible materials falls under the rules and regulations promulgated under OSHA and the National Fire Protection Association.

The Hazard Communication Standard

(29 CFR 1910.1200(g)) was revised in 2012 to require that the chemical manufacturer, distributor, or importer provided Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly MSDSs or Material Safety Data Sheets, for each hazardous chemical to downstream users to communicate information on these hazards. The information contained in the SDS is largely the same as the MSDS, except now the SDSs are required to be presented in a consistent user-friendly, 16-section format.

The SDS includes information such as the properties of each chemical; the physical, health, and environmental health hazards; protective measures; and safety precautions for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical.

SDS Sections

  1. Identification. Identifies the chemical on the SDS as well as the recommended uses.
  2. Hazard(s) Identification. Identifies the hazards of the chemical presented on the SDS and the appropriate warning information associated with those hazards.
  3. Composition/Information on Ingredients. Identifies the ingredient(s) contained in the product indicated on the SDS, including impurities and stabilizing additives. This section includes information on substances, mixtures, and all chemicals where a trade secret is claimed.
  4. First-Aid Measures. Describes the initial care that should be given by untrained responders to an individual who has been exposed to the chemical. 
  5. Fire-Fighting Measures. Provides recommendations for fighting a fire caused by the chemical.
  6. Accidental Release Measures. Recommendations on the appropriate response to spills, leaks, or releases, including containment.
  7. Handling and Storage. Guidance on the safe handling practices and conditions for safe storage of chemicals.
  8. Exposure Controls/Personal Protection. Indicates the exposure limits, engineering controls, and personal protective measures that can be used to minimize worker exposure.
  9. Physical and Chemical Properties. Identifies physical and chemical properties associated with the substance or mixture.
  10. Stability and Reactivity. Describes reactivity hazards of the chemical and the chemical stability information.
  11. Toxicological Information. Identifies toxicological and health effects information or indicates that such data are not available.
  12. Ecological Information. Provides information to evaluate the environmental impact of the chemical(s) if it were released to the environment.
  13. Disposal Considerations. Provides guidance on proper disposal practices, recycling or reclamation of the chemical(s) or its container, and safe handling practices.
  14. Transport Information. Provides guidance on classification information for shipping and transporting of hazardous chemical(s) by road, air, rail or sea.
  15. Regulatory Information. Identifies the safety, health, and environmental regulations specific for the product that is not indicated anywhere else on the SDS.
  16. Other Information. Indicates when the SDS was prepared or when the last known revision was made.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers must ensure that the SDSs are readily accessible to employees for all hazardous chemicals in their workplace. This may be done in many ways. For example, employers may keep the SDSs in a binder or on computers as long as the employees have immediate access to the information without leaving their work area when needed and a back-up is available for rapid access to the SDS in the case of a power outage or other emergency. Furthermore, employers may want to designate a person(s) responsible for obtaining and maintaining the SDSs. If the employer does not have an SDS, the employer or designated person(s) should contact the manufacturer to obtain one.