A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is designed to provide both workers and emergency personnel with the proper procedures for handling or working with a particular substance. MSDS's include information such as physical data (melting point freezing point, boiling point, flash point, toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures. This information will be needed if a spill or other accident occurs. A company is required to have a Material Safety Data Sheet for a product on hand when its employees are exposed over long term to the product in a potentially hazardous manner. In other words, if you are purchasing 5 gallons of shea butter, you are not in any harm and therefore do not need to have an MSDS sheet for the product. However, if you are purchasing a drum of liquid paraffin wax, which is flammable, you should keep an MSDS sheet on hand in case of a spill/leak. MSDSs are required only if the product can be considered hazardous.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are only required for materials that are hazardous. Manufacturers/distributors are not required to provide MSDS sheets for non-hazardous materials.
What products are hazardous and might require an MSDS?
As defined by OSHA Standard 1910.1200, the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, a hazardous chemical is one which is a physical hazard or a health hazard.
Health hazard means a chemical for which there is statistically significant evidence based on at least one study conducted in accordance with established scientific principles that acute or chronic health effects may occur in exposed employees. The term "health hazard" includes chemicals which are carcinogens, toxic or highly toxic agents, reproductive toxins, irritants, corrosives, sensitizers, hepatotoxins, nephrotoxins, neurotoxins, agents which act on the hematopoietic system, and agents which damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or mucous membranes.
Physical hazard means a chemical for which there is scientifically valid evidence that it is a combustible liquid, a compressed gas, explosive, flammable, an organic peroxide, an oxidizer, pyrophoric, unstable (reactive) or water-reactive.
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