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Safety Training: What You'll Find on an MSDS

Goals: This safety session should teach employees to:

  • Recognize Key MSDS hazard and protection information.
  • Read and use MSDSs to work safely with chemicals

Applicable Regulations: 29 CFR 1910.1200

1. OSHA requires a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for every chemical and hazardous substance in the workplace.

  • Chemical manufacturers must prepare them and provide them to users.
  • Employers must have an easily available MSDS for each workplace chemical.

2. MSDS Hazard and Protection Information is a guide to working safely with the chemical.

  • Before starting any job with a chemical, read the MSDS and follow its precautions.

3. Identification data tells what you're working with.

  • Chemical name, hazardous ingredients and date MSDS was prepared
  • Worker exposure limits, such as OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL)
  • Manufacturer/supplier name, address, emergency phone number

4. Physical and chemical changes can affect the type and degree of hazard

  • Normal appearance and odor: Any change could mean greater risk.
  • Boiling point/melting point: Temperature at which the chemical changes from liquid to breathable gas or from solid to liquid-changing the hazard and needed protections
  • Vapor pressure/vapor density/evaporation rate: Rate and ease with which the chemical evaporates or rises in air, which can increase the risk of inhaling the chemical
  • Solubility in water/specific gravity: The chemical's ability to dissolve, sink, or float in water

5. The MSDS identifies fire and explosion risk factors and protections

  • Flash point: Lowest temperature at which an ignition source (e.g., a spark) could make the substance's vapors catch fire- -The lower the number, the greater the chance of ignition.
  • Flammable and explosive limits: Higher and lower concentration of vapor in the air that will catch fire or explode if they contact an ignition source
  • Firefighting: What material to use (water, foam, etc.) to put out a fire containing this substance

6. Reactivity data tell how the chemical reacts with other substances-Contact with air, heat, water, or another specific chemical could cause fire or explosion, or release flammable or toxic gases.

  • Stability/instability: How well the chemical resists change or disintegration and what situations make it less stable
  • Incompatibility: What substances (including air or water) may cause a dangerous reaction if chemical is exposed to them during use or storage
  • Hazardous decomposition/byproducts or polymerization: The kind of hazardous products or reactions that could result if the chemical breaks down or reacts

7. Health hazards explain the potential results of worker exposure

  • How the chemical enters the body: Inhaling, swallowing, skin or eye contact
  • Type of health effects: Acute (develop right after exposure, like skin burns) or chronic (develop over time, e.g., cancer)
  • Signs or symptoms of exposure: Headache, rashes, dizziness, etc.
  • Cancer-causing potential
  • Health conditions exposure might make worse: Breathing or heart problems, etc.
  • What to do if exposed: First aid measures to take while waiting for medical help.

8. Control measures include ways to handle the substance safely

  • Usage precautions: Using ventilation, avoiding heat, practice good hygiene, etc.
  • Emergency response: What to do if there's a spill, leak, or accidental release
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): What to use to prevent exposure (type of respirator, gloves, eye protection, protective clothing)

Conclusion: Use MSDSs to identify chemical hazards and take safety precautions
Always read the MSDS before you work with a chemical, so you will understand the substance's hazards, circumstances that increase the risk of hazards, and equipment and procedures you can use to prevent accidents and dangerous exposure.


  • Normal appearance and odor
  • Temperature-boiling point or melting point-at which its form changes
  • How fast or easily it evaporates and rises in air (vapor pressure, vapor density, evaporation rate)
  • If it dissolves, sinks or floats in water (solubility in water, specific gravity)


  • Lowest temperature at which vapors catch fire (flash point)
  • Highest and lowest vapor concentrations that can catch fire or explode (flammable and explosive limits)
  • Firefighting instructions


  • Chance of change or disintegration (stability, instability)
  • Dangerous reactions to air, water, or specific chemicals (incompatibility)
  • Breakdown or reactivity results (decomposition/byproducts)


  • Hazards and symptoms of inhaling, swallowing, skin, or eye contact
  • Fast (acute) or gradual (chronic) appearance of health problems
  • Cancer hazard
  • Health conditions exposure could make worse
  • First aid until medical help arrives


  • Controls such as ventilation and hygiene
  • Respirators, gloves, or other personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Handling spills, leaks, or accidental release