What are Safety Data Sheets and Why Should I Care About Them?

Jeff Mlekush, coordinator safety operations, Environmental Health and Safety

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are documents provided by manufacturers for most products and provide users of those products with important information regarding the hazards associated with the product. SDS are standardized and contain 16 defined sections within them covering information from the name of the producer to fire-fighting procedures to disposal and regulatory concerns.

While all the sections provide important information, probably the most useful sections to the user are:

  • Section 4 – First Aid Measures
  • Section 5 – Fire Fighting Measures
  • Section 7 – Handling and Storage
  • Section 8 – Exposure Control / Personal Protection

Before using a product, the SDS should be reviewed in its entirety paying specific attention to the 4 sections noted. By reviewing the SDS before you use a product, you will be able to identify safety measures you need to implement before you use the product.

I highly encourage you to visit UCO’s database of SDS online at MSDSOnline. You can then search for products you may use daily. Review the SDS for those products and make sure you are storing them properly, using appropriate personal protection, and have the correct fire extinguisher on site when using them.

If you have questions about a product safe use and would like EHS to review the safety data sheet for the product, please contact us at Ext 2216.