Understanding Your Safety Data Sheet: An Expert Guide

by Lawton Brothers | May 10, 2023

As a worker who handles chemicals or hazardous materials, it is essential to understand the potential risks associated with these substances. That's where a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) comes into play. An SDS provides important information about the chemical makeup of a product, including its physical and chemical properties, potential hazards, and recommended safety precautions. 

The modern format of an SDS consists of 16 sections that follow a specific order and provide vital information about the product. Here's a breakdown of the sections and what information you should pay attention to: 

Section 1 - Identification The first section provides the name of the product, its synonyms, and the supplier's information. Make sure to check that the information is correct and matches the product you are using. 

Section 2 – Hazard Identification This section includes the hazard classification system based on the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). It also details the product's health and physical hazards and provides precautionary statements to ensure safe handling and use. 

Section 3 – Composition This section provides information about the chemical composition of the product, including the percentages of each chemical present. If the product is a mixture, this section will provide a breakdown of its components. 

Section 4 – First Aid Measures This section is critical in case of accidental exposure. It provides information on how to handle exposure through various routes, such as inhalation or ingestion, and lists the symptoms of over-exposure. This information is vital for first responders and medical personnel. 

Section 5 – Fire Fighting Measures This section explains how to extinguish a fire caused by the product and lists any health effects or by-products of combustion. This information can help prevent or mitigate the risks of a chemical fire. 

Section 6 – Accidental Release Measures This section provides information on how to contain and clean up spills or leaks of the product. It also lists personal precautions that should be taken during cleanup. 

Section 7 – Handling and Storage This section provides instructions on how to safely handle and store the product. It includes information on appropriate storage conditions, such as heat and light exposure, and personal protective equipment to use when handling the product. 

Sections 8-11 provide additional information about the product's physical and chemical properties, stability and reactivity, and toxicological effects. While most employees may not need this information, it may be useful for managers or engineers. 

Sections 12-15 cover ecological information and disposal, transport information, and regulatory information. These sections may be relevant to those who handle or transport hazardous materials. 

Section 16 includes any other relevant information, such as the date of preparation or revision of the SDS. 

By understanding the information provided in each section of an SDS, you can take the necessary precautions to handle and use hazardous materials safely. It's essential to read and understand the SDS before using any new product and to keep the SDS accessible for future reference. Remember, your safety and the safety of those around you depend on your knowledge and understanding of the SDS. 

Tips from the Pros

We know that understanding your products and their best practices can be difficult. That’s why we recommend going over the vital information and reading through the manufacturer’s directions for use. Now that you have a better understanding of your Safety Data Sheet, it’s time to revamp your cleaning routine to best serve the manufacturer’s directions. Give us a call today and ask about a free cleaning audit at: 800.432.0813.

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