Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety GHS Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Under the revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are called Safety Data Sheets, or SDS. WSU departments or units must have a SDS in the workplace for each hazardous chemical they use. If you do not have a SDS for every hazardous chemical, you must obtain one immediately. Most SDS can be found through the manufacturer or distributor’s website or by contacting the manufacturer or distributor directly.

If a chemical or product has been discontinued by the manufacturer before the final date of HCS implementation, it is possible a SDS will not be prepared for that item. Therefore, if a department/unit maintains stock of this chemical/product, then the department/unit must keep the MSDS for that chemical.

Supervisors must ensure that SDS are maintained in the workplace and are readily accessible during each work shift to employees when they are in their work area(s). Electronic copies (such as PDFs) are acceptable to maintaining paper copies as long as no barriers to immediate employee access in each workplace are created by this option. For example, if an employee needs to look an SDS but the computer is password protected and the employee does not have the password, this is a barrier. Similarly, if paper copies are only available and they are located in a locked office to which the employee does not have access, this is also considered a barrier.

Under new HazCom requirements, all safety data sheets are now required to have sixteen (16) sections with the same section headings. For example, section four on a SDS for a hazardous chemical must always be “First-aid measures” regardless of what the chemical is or who manufactures it. This will allow the user to access desired information without scanning the whole SDS.


The sixteen sections are as follows:

  • Identification includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use; restrictions on use.
  • Hazard(s) identification includes all hazards regarding the chemical; required label elements.
  • Composition/information on ingredients includes information on chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.
  • First-aid measures includes important symptoms/effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.
  • Firefighting measures lists suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.
  • Accidental release measures lists emergency procedures; protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.
  • Handling and storage lists precautions for safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities.
  • Exposure controls/personal protection lists DOSH and/or OSHA’s Permissable Exposure Limits (PELs); Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); appropriate engineering controls; personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Physical and chemical properties lists the chemical’s characteristics.
  • Stability and reactivity lists chemical stability and possibility of hazardous reactions.
  • Toxicological information includes routes of exposure; related symptoms, acute and chronic effects; numerical measures of toxicity.
  • * Ecological information (Non-Mandatory) includes ecotoxicity; persistence and degradability; bioaccumulative potential; mobility in soil; other adverse effects.
  • * Disposal considerations (Non-Mandatory) includes description of waste residues and information on their safe handling and methods of disposal, including the disposal of any contaminated packaging.
  • * Transport information (Non-Mandatory) lists UN number; UN proper shipping name; transport hazard class(es); packing group, if applicable; environmental hazards; transport in bulk; special precautions which a user needs to be aware of, or needs to comply with, in connection with transport or conveyance either within or outside their premises.
  • * Regulatory information (Non-Mandatory) includes safety, health and environmental regulations specific for the product in question.
  • Other information, including date of preparation or last revision includes the date of preparation of the SDS or the last change to it.

*Note: Since other agencies regulate this information, DOSH will not be enforcing Sections 12 through 15.