North American Coalition for Maintaining Mother Earth

Posted by Adrianna On December - 19 - 2016 0 Comment

Providing a safe work environment can mean success or failure for any employer. One way you can help maintain a work space that promotes safety is keeping accurate Material Safety Data Sheets. These Data Sheets provide critical details about the health, physical, and other hazards of a chemical product.

The OSHA Standard 1910.1200(g)(1) states “Employers shall have a safety data sheet in the workplace for each hazardous chemical which they use.” These are collected in a familiar binder and kept easily accessible and accurate, but do you know what chemicals require an MSDS?

The OSHA Standard 1910.1200(c) goes on to define a hazardous chemical as any that pose a physical or health hazard. A chemical that is a physical hazard has some inherent dangerous property like explosives, or gas. Aerosol cans and matches can fall under this category, as well as chemicals which corrode, like battery acid. You can use Appendix B for information on the mandatory physical criteria it takes for a chemical to require an MSDS.

A health hazard is a danger to just that, the health of the employees who will come in contact with the chemical. Chemicals in this category may cause skin or eye irritation or more serious problems like reproduction problems or cancer. Appendix A of the standard will give you a better idea of the criteria involved in health hazardous chemicals.

Not all chemicals require a Safety Data Sheet. Non-hazardous chemicals are exempt, along with many household products as long as use is consistent with the average consumer. The EPA regulates Pesticides and insecticides, not OSHA. How can you know which chemicals in your workplace need an MSDS and which don’t? Paragraphs (b)(5) and (b)(6) of Standard 1910.1200 deal with exemptions.

As important as the Safety Data Sheets are, always remember they are just one tool in promoting a safe work environment. The purpose of Standard 1910.1200 is “that information concerning the classified hazards is transmitted to employers and employees.” Along with the Safety Data Sheets, a “comprehensive hazard communication programs” must include proper labeling and employee training to secure the safety of everyone.


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