Todd Jerome Jenkins, MS, CSP, SMS, CHST, STSC

Safety Aficionado & Ph.D. Student

Weekly Safety Topic – Review the SDS

Review the SDS

Before using any chemical, you should always read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). SDSs inform you about the hazards associated with the product, such as how flammable it is if it is poisonous or corrosive. Before using the product, taking the time to read the safety information is essential. The information the safety information contains will assist you in using the product safely. You can find the following sections in a typical SDS:

Name and telephone number of the manufacturer of the product. It is a good idea to call this number before you start working with a toxic chemical to ensure that the SDS is still valid before you begin.

Hazard identification. You’ll find out here, for example, whether the chemical is flammable, easily absorbed through the skin, causes cancer, or creates dangerous vapors.

Composition / information on ingredients. In this section, you might learn that the materials you’re working with contain hazardous solvents.

First-aid measures. Make sure you read this section to prepare to administer first aid if you or someone else is exposed to the chemical.

Fire-fighting measures. Using this information can help you select the appropriate fire extinguisher. 

Handling and storage. This section contains a lot of information, so please read it carefully. It contains information about how to work with and properly keep the chemical.

Exposure controls / personal protection. This section will teach you how to prevent overexposure, what PPE is required to stay safe when using chemicals, and if the material poses any health risks to you.

Physical and chemical properties. This section includes information such as flash point, boiling point, VOC content, etc.

Stability and reactivity. Listed here are other materials that could form deadly combinations with this material and how stable or volatile it is.

Toxicology. The purpose of this section is to describe the symptoms of exposure and how poisonous the substance is.

Ecology. How the effects of the chemical on the environment are discussed in this section.

You’ll find that once you get accustomed to the layout and content of an SDS, you’ll find it easier to read and comprehend. If you use any hazardous chemical, it is essential to read the safety data sheet (SDS) before you start. Understand the risks and take the necessary precautions.

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