Safety MSDS Literacy

What are material safety data sheets and why are they so important? Material safety data sheets are pieces of paper that describe the properties of a particular substance. You most often find them in facilities or vehicles were chemicals and other potentially volatile substances are stored and transported. However, it is also common to see MSDS associated with non-toxic products. In relation to toxic products, it is mandatory in many countries for these to be readily accessible at all times.

These data sheets provide a whole host of information about the substances such as its toxicity, health effects, first aid requirements, and handling needs. Many volatile substances can pose a health hazard if not handled properly. Many substances can cause damage or even death if human contact happens. These data sheets provide critical information to prevent and minimize damage.

According to New Zealand laws, material safety data sheets must be stored nearer any chemicals held by a business. When chemicals or other substances go on to a vehicle for transportation, the DOT requires that transporters carry these data sheets inside the vehicle for quick reference if necessary. The information can prove life saving in the right circumstances. It also allows emergency personnel to know how to clean up the substance properly if a spill happens. Material safety data sheets are not just a piece of paper required by the government to drive businesses up the wall. They may save the life of employees or emergency personnel one day.

Why is it so important to carry these data sheets? These material safety data sheets are internationally recognized safety precautions to avoid human and property damage. These sheets are not required for chemicals or other volatile substances stored in homes. They focus on working with them in the workplace or transporting them between locations. All of these substances, in the United States, have numbers assigned to them by the American chemical Society. These numbers provide a unique identification available on the material safety data sheets.

Companies have a legal and ethical requirement to make sure that their material safety data sheets are up-to-date. Many facilities have a designated safety officer who is in charge of making sure employees handle chemicals and other volatile substances with proper care. They are likely the ones that deal with these material data sheets regularly. It should also be part of their job to make sure all the data sheets for their facility are up-to-date. They also need to make sure that employees are aware of where these sheets are stored.