OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) specifies certain information that must be included on MSDS, but does not require that any particular format be followed in presenting this information. In order to promote consistent presentation of information, OSHA recommends that MSDS follow the 16-section format established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for preparation of MSDS.
By following this recommended format, the information of greatest concern to workers is featured at the beginning of the data sheet, including information on chemical composition and first aid measures. More technical information that addresses topics such as the physical and chemical properties of the material and toxicological data appears later in the document. While some of this information (such as ecological information) is not required by the HCS, the 16-section MSDS is becoming the international norm. The 16 sections are:
- Hazard(s) identification
- Composition/information on ingredients
- First-aid measures
- Fire-fighting measures
- Accidental release measures
- Handling and storage
- Exposure controls/personal protection
- Physical and chemical properties
- Stability and re-activity
- Toxicological information
- Ecological information
- Disposal considerations
- Transport information
- Regulatory information
- Other information
Section 1: Chemical Product and Company Identification
This section links the chemical name on the label to the MSDS. The MSDS also lists the name, address and the phone number of the company, manufacturer or distributor
who provides the chemical.
Section 2: Composition, Information or Ingredients
This section must identify all the hazardous ingredients of the material. This section may also include OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs), Threshold Limit Values (TLV), etc.
Section 3: Hazard Identification
This section discusses the health effects one may encounter when exposed to the material. The section will describe the appearance of the material, the potential health effects and symptoms associated with exposure, routes of entry, target organs that could be affected, and so on.
Section 4: First Aid Measures
This section will describe possible first aid procedures for each route of entry. The procedures will be written so that untrained individuals can understand the information.
Section 5: Fire-Fighting Measures
This section will describe information on the fire and explosive properties of the material, extinguishing items, and general fire-fighting instructions.
Section 6: Accidental Release Measures
This section gives information on how to respond when a material spills, leaks or is released into the air. This information may include how to contain a spill or the types of equipment that may be needed for protection.
Section 7: Handling and Storage
This section discusses information on handling and storage of the material. Topics that could be described are: general warnings to prevent overexposure, handling procedures, and hygiene instructions to prevent continued exposure.
Section 8: Exposure Controls and Personal Protection
This section discusses engineering controls and personal protective equipment that would help reduce exposure to the material. The necessary personal protective equipment should be considered for eye/face protection, skin protection and respiratory protection.
Section 9: Physical and Chemical Properties
This section will include information about the physical and chemical properties of the material. The following characteristics should be detailed: appearance, odor, physical state, pH, vapor pressure, vapor density, boiling point, freezing/melting point, solubility in water and specific gravity or density. Indicate if these characteristics do not apply to your material.
Section 10: Stability and Reactivity
This section requires that potentially hazardous chemical reactions be identified. It addresses chemical stability, conditions to avoid, incompatibility with other materials, hazardous decomposition and hazardous polymerization.
Section 11: Toxicological Information
This section discusses data used to determine the hazards that are given in Section 3, “Hazard Identification.” The following information can be addressed: acute data, carcinogenicity, reproductive effects, target organ effects, etc.
Section 12: Ecological Information
This section will help determine the environmental impact should the material ever be released into the environment.
Section 13: Disposal Considerations
This section gives important information that may be helpful in the proper disposal of the material. The information can cover disposal, recycling and reclamation.
Section 14: Transport Information
This section is designed to give basic shipping information. The basic shipping information could include: the hazardous materials description, hazard class and the identification number (UN or NA numbers).
Section 15: Regulatory Information
This section discusses information on the regulations under which the material falls. Examples of a few regulatory agencies are: OSHA, TSCA (Toxic Substance Control Act), CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act), SARA Title III (Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act).
Section 16: Other Information
This section should include any other important information concerning the material. This information can include: hazard ratings, preparation and revisions of the MSDS, and label information.