Safety Data Sheets & the Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), provide information such as:

  • The properties of each chemical
  • The physical, health, and environmental hazards
  • Protective measures and first aid to treat exposure to the chemical
  • Safety precautions for handling, storage, and transporting a chemical
  • Disposal guidelines
  • Spill cleanup guidelines and fire fighting procedures

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that SDSs are available to employees who work with potentially harmful substances. Personnel should review a SDS prior to working with a chemical. SDSs should be kept as hard copies in the laboratory or work space. Hard copies can be obtained by:

  1. Chemical manufacturers often ship an SDS with a chemical or mail it to the laboratory separately. When a hard copy of an SDS is received in the laboratory, it should be saved for future reference. New copies should replace older versions.
  2. SDSs are also often available online. Laboratory workers can download and print copies of SDSs from manufacturers’ websites and keep them in or near the laboratory.

Digital copies are acceptable if there is a computer station in the laboratory or work space, to which all chemical users have access. SDSs are available through the following websites:

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Hazard Communication

As of June 1, 2016, containers of hazardous chemicals MUST adhere to the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) format. All relevant information can be found in section 2 of the Safety Data Sheet, titled Hazard Identification.

EHS will assist to answer questions concerning the labelling under the Globally Harmonized System

OSHA & Hazard Communication Standards