What is a Safety Data Sheet?
A safety data sheet (SDS), formerly known as a material safety data sheet or MSDS, is a written document from a chemical manufacturer or supplier describing the common name(s) of the product, the physical and health hazards, entry routes, permissible exposure limits (PELs), and precautions or controls for safe chemical use. The SDS also includes emergency first aid procedures; and the name, address, and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer or supplier.
A SDS is part of a Chemical Hazard Communication Program (non-laboratory areas) or a Chemical Hygiene Plan (laboratories). A SDS needs to be available for every chemical or product used in the work area. SDSs may be saved and accessed as physical/printed copies or electronic copies. For electronic copies, PDFs or scans are encouraged as opposed to website links or using a search engine to find SDS each time as web links tend to change over time. As SDS are routinely updated by the manufacturer or supplier, effort should be made to have the most recent SDS for a given chemical or product on hand as part of your SDS library.
Finding SDSs and Chemical Safety Information
The manufacturer or supplier should provide a SDS when the product is shipped. If a SDS is not received with the product, there are a number of ways to obtain a SDS:
- Visit the manufacturer or supplier’s website and download the SDS
- Contact the manufacturer or supplier via telephone or email to request a SDS
- Search the World Wide Web
- Visit the following websites which provide SDS and chemical safety resources:
Note: The above links are provided as a courtesy. The availability and/or accuracy of any information obtained from these websites are NOT the responsibility of Environmental Health & Safety or Washington State University.
If you need assistance in obtaining an SDS, please follow the procedure below or contact EH&S at 509-335-3041:
- Chemical Hazard Communication
- Laboratory Safety Manual
- Chemical Hygiene Plan
- Fact Sheet: Chemical Hazard Communication: Your Right to Know
- Fact Sheet: Chemical Safety: Labels and SDSs
- Safety Policies and Procedures Manual: Chemical Hazard Communication Program
Employees should be trained on where the SDSs are stored in their workplace and/or how they can be accessed and how to read a SDS based on the department’s Chemical Hazard Communication Program (non-labs) or Chemical Hygiene Plan (labs).