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Material Safety Data Requirements for Emergency Planning

Posted on Thu, Feb 02, 2012

Accurate Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) need to be available to employees and  potential  responders. There is the potential that the MSDSs will not be useful to local response groups unless they are familiar with the presented information.  Understanding this information will assist responders in assessing hazards assessment for pre-emergency planning or actual response to an emergency.

According to Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

  • The Chemical Sampling Information (CSI) file contains listings for approximately 1500 substances
  • The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substances Inventory lists information on more than 62,000 chemicals or chemical substances
  • Some chemical libraries maintain files of material safety data sheets (MSDS) for more than 100,000 substances.

The number of chemicals is growing on a daily basis. The Chemical Abstract Service (CAS), a division of the American Chemical Society has registered more than 62 million substances. According CAS’s website, “The CAS registry is a collection of disclosed unique organic and inorganic substances, such as alloys, coordination compounds, minerals, mixtures, polymers, and salts, and more than 62 million sequences.”

The Beginning the Hazard Analysis Process, which was originally published as part of the Hazardous Materials Response Handbook (third edition) states, “a first responder might
reasonably be expected to encounter any of 1.5 million of these chemicals in an emergency, with 33,000 to 63,000 of them considered hazardous. To complicate matters, these hazardous chemicals are known by 183,000 different names. Fortunately, not all of these chemicals are equally common.”

OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) specifies required information that must be included on MSDSs. The standard states that “chemical manufacturers and importers shall obtain or develop a material safety data sheet for each hazardous chemical they produce or import. Employers shall have a material safety data sheet in the workplace for each hazardous chemical which they use.”

OSHA requires that each MSDS must contain the following sections, written in English:

  1. Manufacturer's Name and Contact Information, including emergency numbers and addresses.
  2. Hazardous Ingredients/Identity Information, including chemical name, formula, common name, chemical family and associated synonyms. 
  3. Physical/Chemical Characteristics, including detailed chemical properties
  4. Fire and Explosion Hazard Data
  5. Reactivity Data
  6. Health Hazard Data
  7. Precautions for Safe Handling and Use,  including spill and leak procedures
  8. Control Measures, includng special protection information and  precautions

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved an alternative format and published a standard Z400.1-1993, "American National Standard for Hazardous Industrial Chemicals-Material Safety Data Sheets-Preparation."

The following are standards set forth by ANSI. However, OSHA requirements must be included in the MSDS in order to meet compliance requirements.

Section 1. Chemical Product & Company Information
Section. 2. Composition/Information on Ingredients
Section. 3. Hazards Identification
Section. 4. First Aid Measures
Section. 5. Fire Fighting Measures
Section. 6. Accidental Release Measures
Section. 7. Handling and Storage
Section. 8. Exposure Controls/Personal Protection
Section. 9. Physical and Chemical Properties
Section. 10. Stability and Reactivity
Section. 11. Toxicological Information
Section. 12. Ecological Information
Section. 13. Disposal Considerations
Section. 14. Transport Information
Section. 15. Regulatory Information
Section. 16. Other Information

For an understanding of the necessary elements in creating an effective fire pre plan, download our Fire Pre Planning Guide.

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