What’s included in a safety data sheet

Material Safety Data sheet in a hospital is very important tool for employee, patient and visitor safety. In this video, we will be bringing forward as aspects to be included in a MSDS sheet or a material safety data sheet.


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The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) gives fundamental information about a substance or chemical product. A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) outlines the qualities and potential hazards of the material, as well as how to use it safely and what to do in an emergency. This article is intended to assist Canadian employees in comprehending and analysing this type of data.



The MSDS is required for the establishment of a comprehensive health and safety programme for the substance. MSDSs are prepared by the material’s manufacturer or supplier.


Since they include summarised information that attempts to meet all reasonably anticipated users of the content, they tend to be generic in character. MSDSs structure their information into sections. The particular names and content of these sections can vary from one supplier’s MSDS to another, but they are often identical to the 16 sections of the ANSI Standard for MSDS preparation, which are outlined below. If you are utilising a 9-section MSDS, the categories of information may be arranged differently and labelled differently.

1. Product and business identification

The product identification (usually the product name) appears on both the Material Safety Data Sheet and the WHMIS label. To locate the relevant MSDS, always use the product identifier, not an abbreviated version of the product’s name that may be used at your business. Verify sure the name of the manufacturer and/or supplier also appears on the label. In addition to the MSDS and label, other identifiers, such as a product code or catalogue number, may be included.

2. Hazards Identification

The section titled “Hazards Identification” outlines potential exposure routes and potential adverse health effects. If the effects seen in experimental animals are applicable to humans, they may be included.

Situation Overview

This section describes the material’s appearance (e.g., colour, physical form, odour) and the most significant immediate problems, such as fire, reactivity, and health and environmental dangers.

Regulatory Status This subsection may include information on the material’s regulatory status under the Controlled Products Regulations (WHMIS) and/or the US Hazard Communication Standard.

Potential Effects on Health

Point of Entrance (Primary Routes of Exposure)

Skin contact, ocular contact, inhalation (respiratory system), and ingestion are the potential routes of exposure (swallowing). The significance of each channel of entrance for a specific item relies on a variety of criteria, such as the material’s physical qualities and its intended application. When devising methods to minimise exposure, each Route of Entry must be taken into account. Chemicals may cause injury at the site of contact, by absorption into the body, or both. Chemicals taken by the body can have far-reaching effects on body systems and organs. For example, absorption of phenol through the skin might result in catastrophic nervous system and kidney damage.

Effects of Acute Product Exposure

Acute exposure is one that occurs in a brief amount of time (minutes, hours or days). Typically, the effects of an acute exposure manifest at the time of exposure. Occasionally, symptoms may not manifest for several hours or even days after exposure.

You need knowledge of the typical effects of a short-term exposure (signs and symptoms), since they might serve as an early warning indication of unintentional exposure. Any symptoms that may be connected with the usage of a material should be reported so that the reason can be determined through an investigation of your workplace. Possible causes of the symptoms differ considerably. For instance, the material may have penetrated your gloves or the ventilation system may not be functioning properly. Sometimes the symptoms may not be related to a workplace exposure; for instance, they may be caused by a cold.

Effects of Chronic Product Exposure

A chronic exposure is a prolonged one (months or years). Chronic exposures can be classified as prolonged, which means very long, or repetitive, which means numerous. Any ailment caused by a chronic exposure may develop slowly or not manifest until many years after exposure has ceased. You should be aware that you may not have any symptoms at the time of exposure, but a potentially connected condition may manifest itself months or years afterwards. If these effects are conceivable for the item you are handling, it is crucial to reduce your exposure by adhering to recognised safe handling methods.

Product Aversiveness

Some products can produce irritation (reversible redness, swelling, and pain) upon direct contact with the skin, eyes, or respiratory system (nose, breathing airways and lungs). If information regarding the irritancy of the product is available, such as from animal testing, it will be included in this section.

Receptivity to Product

Sensitization is the gradual development of an allergic response to a substance. The initial few exposures to a sensitizer may result in a modest reaction, but as the sensitivity increases, the response gets increasingly severe with consecutive exposures. Even brief exposures to low quantities can eventually result in a severe reaction.

There are two types of occupational sensitization: respiratory and dermal. Common skin sensitivity symptoms include swelling, redness, itching, discomfort, and blistering. Sensitization of the respiratory system may produce symptoms comparable to those of a severe asthma episode. These symptoms include wheezing, breathing trouble, chest tightness, coughing, and shortness of breath.


Materials are identified as carcinogens if the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) or the International Agency for Research on Cancer recognises them as such (IARC). The lists of carcinogens issued by these organisations include proven human carcinogens as well as substances that have been shown to cause cancer in animal studies. If the data is insufficient or inconclusive, certain compounds may be categorised as suspect or potential carcinogens.

Reproductive Harmfulness

Reproductive toxicity encompasses impacts on the adult male and/or female reproductive process. Possible impacts on reproduction include decreased fertility and menstrual changes.

Embryotoxicity and teratogenicity

Teratogens are substances capable of causing birth abnormalities. An embryotoxin is a chemical that can have harmful effects on an embryo in development. Teratogenicity and embryotoxicity are both the result of a detrimental influence on the developing embryo or baby during pregnancy.

Extremely high exposure to a variety of substances can result in teratogenic or embryotoxic consequences. In these instances, the exposed individual would exhibit additional signs and symptoms associated with the exposure. True teratogens / embryotoxins are substances that cause teratogenic / embryotoxic effects in the absence of other significant adverse effects. Pregnant women must take special precautions to limit their exposure to these substances.


A mutagen is a chemical that can alter the DNA of cells (create mutations). DNA influences the traits that children acquire from their parents as well as how cells divide or proliferate in the body. Mutagenicity is a substance’s capacity to induce mutations.

Several laboratory procedures are performed to screen substances for potential mutagenic effects, which may also be associated with carcinogenic, teratogenic, or reproductive hazards. As the human body is capable of eliminating mutagens and repairing numerous mutations, mutagenicity test findings may not consistently indicate the risk to humans. The MSDS includes information on mutagenicity since it is an early signal of possible harm.

Toxicologically Complementary Products

Synergism indicates that exposure to many chemicals over the same period of time can result in health impacts that are larger than expected when the effects of each exposure are added together. Very simply, it is like saying 1 + 1 Equals 3. When substances have synergistic qualities, their potential risks should be reevaluated in light of their synergistic properties. It is essential to determine whether particular combinations of chemicals may create health impacts that are more severe than would be predicted by evaluating the effects of each chemical individually.

The health effects information in the Hazards Identification section of the MSDS should be regarded generic, as not everyone will experience the same symptoms from a particular substance. In addition, the manner in which a material is utilised or handled in a certain workplace will affect the severity of the health risk.

If the substance you are using contains skin or respiratory sensitizers, carcinogens, or reproductive toxins, it is very vital to follow safe handling techniques and procedures to reduce your exposure.

As you study MSDSs from several manufacturers, you will see that they are not written identically. Most give information on health consequences that can be reasonably predicted under usual usage, spill, and emergency scenarios. Others provide information for the worst-case scenario, describing any known health consequence that could possibly occur at any dose or exposure route. Due to these varying methodologies, it is unwise to assume that one product is more or less harmful than another based on the information provided in this section.


Potential Environmental Effects

This subsection addresses the potential environmental implications of the item, such as if it will harm fish or wildlife or accumulate in the environment.

3. Composition, Ingredients Information

The approximate amount (%) of potentially harmful chemical components, byproducts, and impurities of the product are indicated in this section. Typically, CAS numbers for the components are also mentioned. The American Chemical Society’s Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) assigns these unique identities to compounds. Since a chemical might have multiple names, this number can be extremely helpful when searching for additional information.

This section may also specify whether or not one or more of the components constitutes an authorised trade secret.

4. First-Aid Procedures

The section on First-Aid Measures explains activities to be performed promptly in the event of accidental exposure. First aid is intended to minimise damage and potential incapacity. In serious situations, first aid may be required to save the victim’s life.

Prior to dealing with the substance, it is essential to have knowledge of first aid. In an emergency, there is no time to find and read the MSDS. First aid protocols should be reviewed routinely, particularly by staff trained to administer first aid. All personnel should be aware of the location of the first aid facilities and equipment, such as eyewash fountains, safety showers, and first aid kits.

When medical treatment is required, send the MSDS to the emergency facility with the sufferer if it is readily available. If the MSDS is not accessible, you should submit the material’s label or, if the container is small enough, the labelled material itself. Emergency medical personnel must be aware of the nature of the substance and the First Aid Measures that have been employed. Occasionally, the MSDS contains additional instructions (or a Note to Physician) that the emergency physician may find valuable.

5. Firefighting Techniques

This section outlines any fire threats posed by the material, as well as fire suppression techniques. The data can be used to select the proper type of fire extinguishers and to plan the most effective response to a fire on a specific worksite. A significant portion of the information is designed for firemen and emergency response workers. If the substance poses a possible fire threat, extra handling procedures are outlined in Section 7.

This section, along with Section 7 (Handling and Storage) and Section 10 (Stability and Reactivity), can be utilised to identify where a particular substance should be stored (for example, flammable liquids should be stored in specially designed facilities away from incompatible chemicals).

6. Accidental Release Measures

This section provides general advice for responding to an unintentional discharge or cleaning up a spill. It is possible to incorporate specific information, such as recommended absorbent materials for spill cleanup. The material is primarily meant for emergency responders and environmental specialists.

7. Handling And Storage

In this area, you will find the general precautions required for the safe handling of the substance, as well as any necessary equipment.

When creating safe handling methods, all potential dangers (fire, reactivity, health, and environment) must be considered. For example, the MSDS may propose electrical grounding and connecting of containers when pouring volatile liquids.

This section’s storage guidelines give a useful starting point for determining where and how things should be stored (e.g. at what temperature). Refer additionally to Section 5 (Fire Fighting Measures) and Section 10 (Fire Prevention Measures) (Stability and Reactivity).

This section is primarily intended for occupational health and safety specialists and those responsible for building safe storage and handling facilities.

8. Exposure Controls and Personal Protective Equipment

This section includes information used to define safe operating procedures and practises for the material. The majority of MSDSs address all reasonably foreseeable uses of the substance. Due to the fact that they must cover such a vast array of usage scenarios, the material may not be totally appropriate to your profession. A specialist in health and safety can assist you in analysing the material and determining its importance.

Exposure Guidelines

Exposure guidelines, if available, are given for each component. Typically, these are occupational exposure limits issued by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, such as TLVs (Threshold Limit Values) (ACGIH). Some manufacturers propose certain exposure limits for their products. Legal (regulated) exposure limits in your jurisdiction (provincial, territorial, or federal) may differ from those specified on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Professionals in health and safety utilise exposure limits as criteria when conducting air sampling.

Mechanical Controls

Engineering control systems mitigate possible dangers by separating or eliminating the hazard from the workplace. They may employ local exhaust ventilation, general ventilation, or a permanent barrier between the worker and the possible threat (isolation or enclosure). Engineering control systems are essential because they are integrated into the work process to automatically eliminate dangers.

Substituting a less hazardous material or industrial process is always the most effective method for reducing a hazard, and should be investigated first. In lieu of alternative control measures, such as the use of personal protective equipment, engineering control systems are chosen.

When dealing with the material, you must ensure that the engineering control systems specified for your job have been properly inspected, maintained, and are operational. Changes to the process or materials may necessitate modifications to the controls.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) General advise is offered regarding the necessity and selection of PPE.

Vision Protection

Depending on your occupation and the type of material you’re working with, you may require varying degrees of eye protection (e.g. safety glasses, chemical safety goggles, a face shield or some combination of these).

Skin Security

Examples of skin protection include gloves, aprons, full body suits, and boots. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) should list the sorts of rubbers and other materials that offer the best protection against the substance you are employing. No single substance is resistant to all chemicals. Consider the temperature conditions and the necessity for materials that are not readily torn or cut. Occasionally, the MSDS may merely recommend using impermeable (resistant) materials. In this instance, you must determine which materials are optimal. You might be able to receive this information from the product’s supplier or manufacturer or from a supplier of protective apparel. Additionally, it is essential to maintain and replace protective clothes and gloves as necessary.

Respiratory Security

There are numerous varieties of respirators. One type may be effective against certain chemicals but give little or no protection from others. Choosing the perfect respirator for you can be extremely difficult. Typically, a certified individual is required to conduct a comprehensive examination of the workplace, including all employed chemicals and their airborne quantities and forms. Therefore, detailed respiratory protection instructions cannot typically be provided on the MSDS. If respirators are required at your workplace, you must have a comprehensive respiratory protection programme that includes respirator selection, fit testing, training, and maintenance. Consult the applicable regulatory and consensus standards.

General Considerations in Hygiene

This section contains basic hygiene information that is not typically material-specific, such as “wash thoroughly after handling and before eating or drinking,” but is regarded as excellent practise.

9. Physical and Chemical Characteristics

You should verify that the description (physical state and appearance) of the substance on the MSDS matches the substance you have. If not, you may not possess the proper MSDS. The substance may also be old or may have disintegrated during transport or storage. In either scenario, the information on the MSDS may not be applicable, and you should seek further guidance.

The remainder of this section’s information is used to assess under what circumstances the item may be dangerous. This information is used by technical professionals to establish site-specific protocols for exposure control, storage, handling, fire fighting, spill cleanup, etc.

10. Stability And Reactiveness

This portion of the MSDS details any conditions under which the substance is unstable or can react in a hazardous manner, as well as those that should be avoided. Unstable substances can break down (decompose) and produce fires or explosions, as well as lead to the development of new chemicals with varying dangers. Conditions such as heat, sunshine, and age can lead to the breakdown of unstable compounds.

Some compounds are harmful because they are capable of polymerization or chain reactions. This reaction may produce a great deal of heat, enough pressure to rupture a container, or be explosive.

Chemicals that can breakdown or polymerize typically contain additives known as stabilisers or inhibitors that limit or eliminate the likelihood of a dangerous reaction.

Materials that are incompatible are those that may react violently or explosively if combined. Unless particular precautions are followed, these materials should be stored separately and never mixed.

You must be familiar with the information in this area in order to safely store and handle the material and avoid mixing incompatible substances.

11. Toxicological Details

This section of the MSDS offers information regarding the toxicity of either the product’s ingredients or the product as a whole. This information may be highly technical and challenging to comprehend. It is used to support the conclusions made in Section 2 – Hazard Identification – Potential Health Effects. If you are uncertain about the applicability of the material to your workplace and position, you should consult a knowledgeable health and safety expert. It is crucial to remember, when reading about the effects of a substance on animals, that these effects are not necessarily the same for humans.

LD50 (species and route) (species and route)

LC50 (species) (species)

These numbers are derived from animal toxicity tests and are used to represent a substance’s propensity for short-term poisoning (the lower the value, the more toxic the material). LD50 (lethal dosage 50%) is the amount of a substance administered all at once that kills 50% of a group of test animals. The LD50 can be calculated via any route of exposure, but dermal (applied to skin) and oral (ingested) LD50s are the most prevalent. If the exposure route is inhalation, the figure is referred to as an LC50, which stands for 50% lethal (airborne) concentration.

Since the information in this section supports the conclusions drawn for Potential Health Effects, you may also find information on the following topics: Effects of Acute Exposure to Product, Effects of Chronic Exposure to Product, Irritancy of Product, Sensitization to Product, Carcinogenicity, Reproductive Toxicity, Teratogenicity and Embryotoxicity, Mutagenicity, and Toxicologically Synergistic Products.

12. Ecological Information

Under the WHMIS, Ecological Information is not particularly required. If included, this section contains information that can be used to evaluate the material’s environmental impact if it is released (e.g. toxicity to fish, birds, plants and microorganisms). This material is primarily meant for environmental professionals and other company personnel responsible for analysing use, disposal, and spill management.

13. Disposal Considerations

This portion of the MSDS is primarily intended for environmental specialists. Typically, general trash disposal information will be supplied. Typically, the MSDS does not include all the necessary processes and safeguards for the proper disposal of hazardous material. In addition, the MSDS frequently does not list the applicable federal, provincial, or local requirements. For this information, you should contact the proper authorities in your area.

14. Transportation Information

This section of the MSDS is for individuals responsible for transporting the substance. If particular precautions are required during transportation, they will be taken. If the goods fits TDG (Transportation of Dangerous Goods) criteria, the TDG PIN (product identification number) will also be issued. Additionally, the supplier may include the TDG categorization.

15. Compliance Information

This part is primarily intended for regulatory compliance personnel. There may include references to applicable health, safety, and environmental rules and regulations, as well as information about the product’s regulatory status. The product’s WHMIS categorization may also be specified.

16. Additional Information

This section is used to offer additional information that the data sheet’s author deems essential for the safe use of the substance (e.g. label text, hazard ratings). Sometimes, the reference sources utilised to compile the data sheet are listed.

Indicate the date the MSDS was created (or the last time it was reviewed or changed). If new information becomes available, the data sheet will be updated. Verify that the MSDS you are utilising is less than three years old. If not, you must request an updated MSDS from the manufacturer or supplier. You can also call the listed manufacturer and/or distributor to acquire further safe handling information, if necessary.

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