MSDS vs SDS
After decades of using the MSDS (material safety data sheet) standard, OSHA has decided to realign with the GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals) to pursue a more universal acceptance and compliance. Material safety data sheets have been the norm for decades and this shift will cause many companies to adjust.
What is or was MSDS?
Before assuming too much let’s review the purpose behind the existence of MSDS. MSDS documents are pages of information that travel with hazardous chemical shipments that include warnings for handling, storage and disposal.
MSDS vs. SDS
First off, an SDS is basically the same document nearly identical but by dropping the “M” from SDS has caused many to become confused and frustrated. The GHS SDS has only a couple of minor revisions to the MSDS format.
How to Manage the Transition to HazCom 2012
The bulk of the heavy lifting during the transition to GHS belongs to the chemical manufacturers and distributors. However, employers have a few key obligations related to SDSs that they will need to stay on top of. The good news is that with a solid strategy in place, employers should be able to not only maintain compliance, but also make considerable improvements to their HazCom Programs.
The first thing employers should do is make sure they understand the compliance deadlines laid out under HazCom 2012. There are four key deadlines:
- December 1, 2013 – By this date, employers must train employees on how to read GHS formatted labels and SDSs. Changes to labels are probably more substantial, however, employees need to understand where to find information on the SDS, especially in section 2 where critical hazard information is located.
- June 1, 2015 – By this date, chemical manufacturers and distributors should have completed their reclassification of chemicals and be shipping GHS formatted SDSs and labels with their shipments. By this time too, a majority of your library will have turned over.
- December 1, 2015 – Distributors have an additional 6 months beyond the June 1, 2015 date to pass along manufacturer labels and SDSs in the older formats. However, beyond December 1, 2015, all SDSs and labels in the U.S. should adhere to HazCom 2012 provisions.
- June 1, 2016 – By this date employers should be fully compliant with HazCom 2012. That includes making any necessary updates to their HazCom program, training employees on any newly identified chemical hazards (identification of new hazards is likely during the reclassification process chemical manufacturers undertake), and updating safety data sheets libraries and secondary labels.
Looking at the deadlines, one key obligation that employers have, which hopefully jumped out for you, is that incoming SDSs will need to be checked against the older MSDSs to see if there are any new hazards or precautions. Why? It’s likely that some of the chemicals you’ve used for years, on which all of your employees have already been trained, will by the end of the transition have new hazards or changes to handling recommendations that will require updated training. As you know, employees must be trained on all of the hazards of the chemicals to which they are exposed.
To comply, it will help if you have a system in place for catching new changes to safety data sheets. For example:
- Have a designated employee in charge of the transition to GHS
- Make sure your employees, especially those on the front lines in procurement and the loading dock (where MSDSs are likely to first enter the facility), are on the lookout for updated SDSs
- When a new safety data sheet comes in – have a system in place for comparing it to the earlier version, making note of any relevant changes
- Plan/execute training
- Update your MSDS library / archive old MSDS
Is VacOil® Supplying SDS Documents
Yes. VacOil® has made the necessary changes on all of our vacuum pump oils.
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