Material Safety Data Sheet: a legal requirement
A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) contains information about potential hazards of (chemical) products on-site. A well-described MSDS advice on how to work safely with various products especially hazardous ones.
A Material Safety Data Sheet is an important component of product stewardship and complianc with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and regulations. It is also known as product safety data sheet (PSDS). The document is intended to provide workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner.
A Material Safety Data Sheet is a widely used system for cataloging information on chemicals, chemical compounds, and chemical mixtures. Companies that use chemicals and chemical-based products must have a Material Safety Data Sheet.
Layout of a compliant Material Safety Data Sheet should have the following basic information. Note that even when it is not applicable or not necessary, this must be indicated with a text stating 'not applicable/necessary' .
>> Identification of the material
>> Potential hazardous Ingredients
>> Physical Data
>> Fire and explosion information
>> Reactivity information
>> Health hazard information
>> First Aid measures
>> Preventative measures
>> Storage and handling requirements
>> Spill clean-up and waste disposal guidance preparation information
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Importance of a Material Safety Data Sheet:
Companies are legally obliged by the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 to be in possession of a Material Safety Data Sheet for all products that should come with one. It is an essential starting point for the development of a complete health and safety program. The document is supposed to inform the users about the components used in making a certain product. It will show the type of chemicals used and it also provides details of the products’ physical properties. In addition, it will advice them about how to properly handle and use such products . Moreover, this is also be a good way to alert employees as they will know how to react in case there is crisis in the workplace related to those chemicals. Being fully aware of the chemicals they are handling, employees would exert extra caution when dealing with the components.
The information found in a Material Safety Data Sheet should be taken seriously. It is important that employers get hold of the MSDS and have it thoroughly studied by an expert before deciding to purchase. Appointed First Aiders must be fully trained and aware of every MSDS, especially the Chemical MSDS in the company. In this way you ensure that you buy only safe products and products that won't compromise health and safety in the workplace.
Containers should be labelled properly, corresponding with the MSDS information provided to avoid confusion and wrong use. Make this your safety priority tip upon reception of such products. Do not accept chemicals and chemical based products from any supplier if they do not come with a Material Safety Data Sheet.
Depending on the product, the chemicals can be less or extremely dangerous. Chemicals may be detrimental to health which can have immediate or long term side effects varying from burns to cancer. That is the very reason people should be made aware of the nature of chemicals they are dealing with. It is important that effects are identified, documented, as well as be well-understood by the receiver. This ensures that preventive and corrective actions can be taken.