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MSDS and Chemical Safety

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MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheet and is a common used document in the industrial construction industry.

universalwrecking-091214MSDS are provided for employees use on each chemical they may come in contact with on a project. There are MSDS on everything from gasoline, to trichloroethylene (TCE), and even to whiteout. The MSDS cover a multitude of topics ranging from physical properties of the chemical to the associated health effects. Some MSDS are better than others, but all provide excellent information on the characteristics of the chemical you may be using.

Always be sure that you are using the latest version of the MSDS, information can change from time to time. Obtain an MSDS for all hazardous materials that are brought on the job site.

How to Read an MSDS:
The product is often identified by a chemical name and often a trade name (i.e., polychlorinated biphenyl, PCB).

  • Section One contains the suppliers information including the name, address, and phone number of the company that makes the chemical, and the date the MSDS was prepared.
  • Section Two has a listing of the hazardous components and the regulated exposure limits. Sometimes the chemicals components will not be listed if the chemical is a trade secret.
  • Section Three contains the physical data of the chemical (i.e., vapor pressure, solubility, reactivity, etc.).
  • Section Four includes the fire and explosion data covering the flash point, lower explosive limit (LEL) and upper explosive limit (UEL).
  • Section Five involves the reactivity of the chemical. This indicates whether or not the chemical can be mixed with water, air or other chemicals.
  • Section Six covers the associated health hazards that delivers critical information to help keep you safe.
  • Section Seven outlines the safe handling procedures; and Section eight gives guidance towards controlling associated hazards.

If you have difficulty understanding the information on the MSDS, you should contact your Corporate Health and Safety (CHS) prior to using the chemical. Also check out the OSHA Quick Card with new requirements: as of June 1, 2015 all SDSs will need to be in a uniform format.

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