The safety data sheet (also referred to as material safety data sheet, MSDS or SDS) is a vital part of managing key information about many products including use, handling, storage, chemicals, shipping and waste disposal.

Safety Data Sheets have been a stable and reliable part of managing hazardous product data information for decades.  The SDS has undergone several iterations, with the most recent being the GHS standard from 2016.

The information in the SDS is used by first responders such as firefighters and medical personnel during an incident.  Whether you have an existing facility that stores this product or you have a brand new facility that is opening, the SDS is a must-have so that first responders can be properly prepared to help in the event of a spill, fire, or accidental exposure to harmful chemicals or airborne inhalation of a chemical. The SDS is also used by OSHA to ensure the correct handling of hazardous products.  And the SDS has evolved to be an important part of storage, shipping and disposal of the products.

COVID-19 has made the use of the SDS information even more important.  The information in the SDS can advise on chemicals that can help to fight COVID-19 as well as provide important information for chemicals that may not be affected by the virus.

For example, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently emphasized the fire danger of storing 5 gallons or more of hand sanitizer or any substance with more than 60% ethanol or isopropanol.  Storing this amount would mean you must comply with NFPA 30 storage.This should be noted in your material Safety Data System!

For disinfectant chemicals the EPA certifies using the CAS numbers in their “List N” search.  This verifies that certain chemicals can be highly effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.  Your safety data sheet should have your CAS numbers!

Now is the time to review your Safety Data Sheet to make sure you have the right information.  The following four checks can help you to make sure you have the correct data included in your SDS:

  1. When was the last time your SDS was updated?Many companies revised their SDS in 2016 with the GHS mandate, but some did not.  If you have not reviewed your SDS in the last 3 to 6 months, you should do this asap.
  2. Do you have all the CAS numbers listed properly in the SDS?The CAS number for chemicals has become a key reference for many regulations.  Fire departments, medical authorities and others rely on this data.
  3. Are all applicable sections of the SDS completed and accurate?Do not forget to include fire safety, waste disposal, shipping and other important sections of the SDS.
  4. Is your SDS accessible and readable to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance requirements?Your SDS should be read logically and easily by automated readers for those who may have visual impairments.

Regulations and requirements for storage, shipping, disposal and use are only going to increase as a result of COVID-19. There are ongoing discussions at the federal, state and local levels to require more information be made available to the public on products that may have hazardous materials.  Many states are actively discussing changing their VOC (volatile organic chemicals) requirements.  You should have a process in place to keep up to date on the evolving landscape of product regulations and how they may impact the use of safety data sheets!

This is the right time to review your material Safety Data Sheet information and put into place an ongoing evaluation process to make sure the latest regulations are always updated.

Managing material Safety Data Sheet data can be challenging. It requires expert advice to audit your SDS and suggest the areas to be updated.

If Safety Data Sheet regulations are applicable to you and you are interested in knowing more about this topic and the solution options, schedule a free consultation with an APA compliance expert today.

APA can answer key questions about safety data sheets including:

●  Do I even need an SDS for my items?

●  How do I get a CAS number?

●  If I have proprietary chemicals how are they handled in the SDS?

●  How do I make my SDS accessible and ADA compliant?

●  Do all SDS sections apply to my product?

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If this regulation is applicable to you and you are interested in knowing more about this topic and available solutions, then schedule a free consult with our experts.