by Stephen Lawson, COO of Aseptic Health and a Certified Clinically Clean® Specialist
One of the many regulations for disinfectants is the creation of an SDS or Safety Data Sheet. This document is created by the chemical supplier. It is basically a summary of information regarding hazards or precautions for using the product safely.
The document is presented in a standard 16-section format. This format adheres to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) created in 2012. (Before that time Safety Data Sheets were known as Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDS.)
Who Uses A Safety Data Sheet?
Chemists, janitors, carpet cleaners, restaurant workers, HVAC installers, engineers, manufacturers…anyone who works with hazardous chemicals understands the benefits of referring to the SDS before using a product. As we have said before, reading labels is important.
And in fact several agencies involved with worker safety, including OSHA, require Safety Data Sheets to be accessible at all times (and even to be archived for 30 years after the chemical is no longer in use)!
By accessible, OHSA means accessible for reading and/or printing within the work space whether by electronic means or in a printed form.
In addition OSHA requires that employers provide training on how to read and understand the SDS.
Important To Your Health
The SDS includes important information regarding chemicals such as:
- Properties of the chemical
- Potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity, environmental)
- Protective measures (personal protective equipment required)
- Safety precautions for handling, storing, transporting the chemical
What you learn from reading a safety data sheet can save your life. Especially sections 2, 6 and 8 which cover types of Personal Protective Equipment necessary for safe handling and use.
16 Sections of the Safety Data Sheet
The standard 16 sections of the Safety Data Sheet are the backbone of employee safety and include:
- 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 reactivity
- Toxicological information
- Ecological information
- Disposal considerations
- Transport information
- Regulatory information
- Other information
Section 1 identifies the chemical on the SDS as well as recommended uses. It also provides the information of the manufacturer or supplier.
Look to Sections 2, 6 and 8 to know what hazards to watch out for and what personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed during normal use. Examples of PPE include:
- Face shield
Shop floor employees, safety managers, office workers, and even the clients that use your products need to be clear about any chemical hazards and safety PPE.
Section 2 includes the hazards of the chemical and the appropriate warning information associated with those hazards.
Section 3 identifies the primary ingredient(s) contained in the product. Where trade secrets are claimed, this section includes other safety information if applicable.
Section 4 includes basic first aid information for anyone who has been exposed to the chemical.
Section 5 describes measures for fighting a fire caused by the chemical.
Section 6 provides recommendations in case of spills or leaks including containment and cleanup to prevent or minimize exposure to people, property or the environment. It may also include recommendations depending on the size of the spill and its impact.
Section 7 provides recommendations for safe handling and storage of the product.
Section eight details exposure limits, engineering controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE) measures that can be used to minimize worker exposure. Type of PPE or necessity of PPE depends on chemical composition.
Section 9 identifies appearance and other information that you need know such as freezing and boiling points, the product’s pH among other chemical properties.
Section 10 is broken into 3 parts: reactivity, chemical stability, and other and describes any reactivity hazards.
Section 11 identifies any known toxicological and/or health effects.
Sections 12 and 13 detail environmental impact if released and disposal considerations.
Section 14 includes information for shipping and transporting the chemical.
Sections 15 and 16 are basically where the manufacturer or supplier of the chemical provide any other regulatory information or other information that a user may find helpful.
Only A Starting Point For Safety
The information on an SDS is only a starting point for safety measures in your workplace. Depending on the physical characteristics of the work area or even the abilities of employees—such as ability to speak and understand the language—you may need to add to and increase safety policies.