What Are Safety Data Sheets (SDS)?
The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is made to provide workers and emergency personnel alike with the correct procedures for the use and handling of a specific substance. It covers information, including physical data (boiling/melting point, flash point, etc.), toxicity, first aid, storage, protective equipment, and more.
The SDS is particularly useful during spills or other accidents occur, but it is key to preventing exposure and accidents in the workplace, and must to be reviewed before developing a new process or working with a new material. This is, in fact, how employers usually meet their compulsory employee information and training obligation as per the HazCom Standard.
In America and other countries using the GHS system, the SDS follows a standardized format and meticulously defined risk and safety phrases, along with pictograms to impart their information. Typically, these are several pages long.
The SDS is for the use of:
> Employees exposed to occupational hazards;
> Employers who are uninformed about the right methods of handling substances;
> Emergency response teams such as hazardous material crews, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians, and ER personnel, among others.
SDS’s are not created for consumers. An SDS presents the risks of working with the substance as part of one’s occupational duties. For example, a paint SDS is not as vital to a person exposed to paint once a year, as it is to another person whose who is exposed 40 hours weekly.
With that, the Household Products Database by the U.S. National Library of Medicine is a perfect resource for consumers to be educated on the consumer product hazards. For instance, it can be used as you choose an environmentally friendly insecticide, know what chemicals are in your soap, or determine the manufacturer of a specific product.
How an SDS Looks Like
Before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) began its own version of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), the SDS was made in any format. The compulsory 16-part SDS format came with the GHS changes. As well, more information is now required of the SDS than before.
Where the SDS Can Be Obtained
You can get the SDS from plenty of places, like:
> Your workplace or laboratory, where all hazardous chemicals you have ordered should come with a collection of SDS’s;
> Universities as well as businesses (call your Environmental or Occupational Health Office or science librarian; there are organizations that hire commercial services to get SDS copies online, faxed or printed out); and