DATE: 9-18-03
Using Material Safety Data Sheets

The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) and “Occupational Exposures to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories”(29CFR 1910.1450) incorporate Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS’s) as a critical component. A hazardous chemical, according to OSHA, is “any chemical which poses a physical hazard or a health hazard” to the user.
Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to obtain or develop an MSDS for each hazardous chemical they produce or import. If chemicals are developed in University laboratories for use outside of that laboratory, an MSDS should be prepared and provided to the end user of the chemical. Faculty and staff have access to MSDS through a variety of sources, including Departmental files, manufacturer’s websites, lab-specific MSDS inventories and the University EH&S web site.

OSHA specifies certain information that the MSDS must contain, however they do not mandate a particular format.

Information required by OSHA includes:
1. Identification - Label name of the material along with the name, address and telephone number of the manufacturer and the date prepared.

2. Hazardous Ingredients - hazardous chemicals present at >1% or carcinogens at >0.1%.

3. Permissible Exposure Limits - as defined by OSHA (PELS); or the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH TLV’s).

4. Physical and Chemical Characteristics - properties such as boiling point, melting point, vapor pressure, color, odor etc.

5. Fire and Explosion Hazard - flash point, upper and lower explosive limits, hazardous decomposition products, and fire fighting procedures and precautions.

6. Reactivity Data - avoiding conditions or mixture with other chemicals to prevent dangerous or violent reaction products; description of additives for stabilizing the chemical.

7. Toxicological Information - lists health hazards including signs and symptoms of exposure, medical conditions that may be aggravated, and routes of exposure into body.

8. Precautions for Safe Handling - recommended work practices, protective measures or equipment, use and storage safeguards, personal hygiene practices.

9. Control Measures - Appropriate engineering controls, ventilation requirements, administrative controls and personnel protective equipment.

10. Emergency First Aid - procedures to follow immediately after exposure and before medical help arrives. Physician treatment information for both immediate and delayed effects.

11. Accidental Release Measures - outline steps to take when the material is spilled or leaks into the environment. Plan for these in advance; have spill kits available.

12. Emergency Contact Information - 24 hour telephone numbers to call in case of emergency.

Chemical users (employees) must have access to MSDS’s for all chemical products used in their workplace via the EH&S website. Many MSDS’s omit the name of proprietary or trade secret ingredients. If complete information is necessary to insure the health and safety of the user, this information can be obtained by EH&S.

Departments receiving MSDS’s should use them to train employees, develop Safe Operating Procedures (SOP’s) and maintain a file on site.
Persons with Internet access may obtain information from and following the instructions.

Check the MSDS on all chemicals before you start a project. Also read the container label before you begin. Contact your supervisor, EH&S (412) 624-9505 or your Departments Chemical Hygiene Officer should you have any questions about using a chemical or locating an MSDS.

The University of Pittsburgh’s Chemical Hygiene Plan Committee has reviewed and approved this SOP for using MSD Sheets as attested by the signatures of the Committee Chairperson and the Chemical Hygiene Officer.
_____________________ ______ ______________________ _______

Back to Main Group Page