Do you understand how to read a material safety data sheet?

As an employee, there may come a time when you need to read and understand a material safety data sheet (MSDS). This document provides information regarding the nature of a chemical, including but not limited to chemical properties, fire, safety, and health hazards.

While a material safety data sheet is designed for workers who could be exposed to a hazardous material, don’t be surprised if you come across this during some point in your employment.

All material safety data sheets must include the same information:

— Chemical identity.

— Manufacturer’s information.

— Hazardous ingredients.

— Physical and chemical characteristics.

— Fire and explosion hazard data.

— Reactivity data.

— Health hazard data.

— Precautions of safe handling and use.

— Control measures.

While it is good to know that material safety data sheets exist, some employees don’t know where to find them. For this reason, they could be exposed to a chemical that they know nothing about.

You can look in these places for a material safety data sheet:

— Employers must give employees access to all material safety data sheets.

— The employer is required to request material safety data sheets from the distributor.

— Your union.

As an employee, it is good to understand the materials you are working with. This is particularly true if they could be hazard to your health or cause injury.

The best thing you can do is review any and all material safety data sheets. This will ensure that you fully understand the chemicals you come in close contact with on a regular basis.

Source: UCLA Labor Occupational Safety & Health Program, “How do I read a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?,” accessed Dec. 01, 2015

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